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State reports 201 COVID-19 cases in Northampton, 595 in Hampshire County

Staff Writer
Published: 5/7/2020 6:38:44 PM
Modified: 5/7/2020 6:38:34 PM

NORTHAMPTON — Caseloads of COVID-19 in individual cities and towns in the area have largely followed statewide trends as the number of confirmed infections continues to rise, according to state public health data released Wednesday.

Northampton is the hardest-hit municipality in Hampshire County, according to the state Department of Public Health, with 201 cumulative confirmed cases of COVID-19 since Jan. 1 — up from 167 cases a week earlier. The city’s current rate of infection per 100,000 residents is 687.62.

Holyoke remains one of the hardest hit cities in the area, with 678 confirmed cases of the disease since the beginning of the year — up from 596 cases a week earlier. Holyoke has a current rate of infection of 1,645.46.

The total number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Massachusetts neared 74,000 individuals who tested positive for the disease caused by the coronavirus.

As of Thursday, 73,721 people across Massachusetts have tested positive for COVID-19 after the state reported an additional 1,696 cases. There were 132 new deaths, bringing the state’s total to 4,552.

City and town data released by the state are from a single point in time and will “change throughout the day” as the information is cleaned for duplicates and new information is obtained, according to the DPH.

The state has reported 595 confirmed cases and 48 deaths in Hampshire County, 285 cases and 39 deaths in Franklin County and 4,441 cases and 434 deaths in Hampden County.

Among Massachusetts’ 14 counties, Hampshire County ranks 10th in rate of confirmed COVID-19 cases, with 580 per 100,000 residents. Hampden County is eighth.

Outside of Northampton, in Hampshire County, the municipality with the largest change in caseload over the past week is South Hadley, with 10 additional cases, bringing its total to 61, or a rate of 337.03.

Belchertown has a cumulative 69 confirmed cases of COVID-19 since Jan. 1 and a rate of 433.34 per 100,000 residents; Amherst has 60 cases and a rate of 148.16; Easthampton has 55 cases and a rate of 339.22; Hadley has 33 cases and a rate of 573.88; Southampton has 26 cases and a rate of 432.93; Granby has 18 cases and a rate of 293.09; Ware has 17 cases and a rate of 167.67; Huntington has 12 cases and a rate of 542.65; Williamsburg has nine cases and a rate of 364.84; and Hatfield has 9 cases and a rate of 277.17.

The remaining towns in Hampshire County are reported to have fewer than five or even zero cases of COVID-19.

Worthington is one of the very rare communities in the entire state where not one resident has tested positive for the coronavirus. According to Diane Brenner, head of Worthington’s Board of Health, no infected person has been identified in town through contact tracing.

Cities and towns are notified by the state DPH of residents who test positive for COVID-19 through the Massachusetts Virtual Epidemiologic Network (MAVEN), Brenner said. She said she knows of a few cases where a person lived and tested positive elsewhere and came to Worthington to recuperate, and of a negative test in the town.

“We honestly don’t know if there are unidentified cases in town, from a board of health point of view,” Brenner said. “And we have no way to find out, either.”

Brenner said there is a possibility some people never get tested and are treated for their symptoms at home, and that others are asymptomatic and never seek out testing. She said there’s been an effort to expand testing, but people still need a doctor’s recommendation and appointments could take a while.

“There’s got to be some not visible because of the limits of testing right now,” Brenner said of cases in Worthington.

In neighboring Cummington, which has fewer than five cases according to DPH data, there is currently only one person who has COVID-19, though the town has seen three in total this year, said James Wettereau, chairman of the town’s Board of Health.

He said numbers are so low in the area because of its population density. In Cummington specifically, there aren’t many public places for exposure to occur, Wettereau said.

“These towns have less people than a typical Manhattan apartment building,” Wettereau said.

Wettereau said he’s also concerned with asymptomatic people not being tested.

“Unless you have active symptoms, it’s almost impossible to get someone tested,” he said.

The state has carried out 351,632 tests, 11,993 of which were new on Wednesday.

Bri Eichstaedt, the health agent for the city of Easthampton, said the Northampton Health Department is coordinating contact tracing for Easthampton and 11 other cities and towns in the area.

The state health department does not track recoveries on a state level.

Eichstaedt said Northampton nurses reach out to confirmed cases and people who had been in close proximity to them, also known as a contact, entering each person into MAVEN. Each case is then supposed to receive follow-up twice a day, she said.

Though she doesn’t do contact tracing herself, Eichstaedt can run a report of all people confirmed to have COVID-19 who live in Easthampton as well as identified contacts living in the city. A contact could be suspected to have the disease but not be confirmed, Eichstaedt said. Data released by DPH shows confirmed COVID-19 cases by cities and towns.

“It doesn’t nearly show an accurate representation of what we’re experiencing,” she said of the publicly released state data.

Staff writer Jacquelyn Voghel contributed to this report. Michael Connors can be reached at mconnors@gazettenet.com.




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