South Hadley goes ‘red’ with virus cluster

  • Map of average daily incidence rate for COVID-19. SUBMITTED PHOTO/DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH

  • Route 116 in South Hadley  STAFF FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 8/20/2020 5:23:21 PM
Modified: 8/20/2020 5:23:09 PM

SOUTH HADLEY — State public health officials have designated South Hadley one of 10 communities statewide at a higher risk for COVID-19, based on average daily case rates over a previous two-week period.

South Hadley is the only municipality in Hampshire County to be colored “red” in a tracking map released by the state Department of Public Health after the town reported an average daily case rate of more than eight COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people over the previous two-week period — the threshold at which a community is deemed at “higher risk” for the coronavirus, according to Gov. Charlie Baker’s administration.

South Hadley had an average daily case rate of 11.1 per 100,000, adding 28 new cases of COVID-19 over the two-week period for a cumulative total of 203 cases, according to the Department of Public Health.

Holyoke and Granby were both placed at this highest level of risk by the state DPH last week, but in Wednesday’s report, Holyoke had dropped down to the yellow, “moderate risk” designation, while Granby, with fewer than five cases reported in the past 14 days, was in the white zone.

Yellow communities have an average daily case rate of four to eight COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people over the past two weeks; Holyoke this week had 7.1.

Young people gathering

South Hadley Town Administrator Mike Sullivan said that even before the town’s “red” designation, South Hadley was seeing coronavirus case numbers climb. Sullivan said the town is “fairly confident” that 18 of the town’s 28 new cases recorded in the previous two-week period stemmed from a recent gathering at an Amherst apartment that was attended by South Hadley residents.

Sullivan said the people infected were between the ages of 19 and 21. He noted that there are a lot of students who have signed leases at off-campus housing in the area prior to the fall semester becoming remote, meaning that gatherings like this may continue to occur.

Sullivan said he is continuing to ask people to use face coverings, wash their hands and avoid crowds when possible in order to reduce the transmission of COVID-19.

“If you take the proper precautions, you should be safe,” Sullivan said.

Northampton was designated a green community on the DPH tracking map for having an average daily case rate of 2.2 per 100,000 people over the previous two-week period. Easthampton has maintained its yellow designation for having an average daily case rate of 4 per 100,000 residents.

In Massachusetts as of Wednesday, the DPH has confirmed a cumulative total of 115,048 COVID-19 cases. In its weekly report, the state listed 1,107 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Hampshire County, with 64 new cases in the past 14 days, which is a decrease in new cases from last week’s report.

As of Thursday afternoon, a total of 22.4 million people across the globe have contracted COVID-19 and 788,535 have died, according to The New York Times. In the United States, a total 5,506,929 cases of COVID-19 have been reported, along with 172,416 total deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday.

In Hampshire County, Northampton had a cumulative total of 316 confirmed COVID-19 cases, up from 307 on Aug. 12; South Hadley had 203, up from 188; Belchertown had 128, up from 127; Amherst had 121, up from 118; Easthampton had 110, up from 108; Hadley had 46, no change; Southampton stayed at 33; Granby had 41, up from 40; Hatfield 20, up from 19; Huntington 14, no increase; Williamsburg 14, no increase; Westhampton six, up from five; Goshen five, no increase; and Chesterfield at five, up from having fewer than five cases.

Plainfield, Cummington and Pelham once again reported fewer than five cases, while Worthington and Middlefield have stayed at zero cases.

Michael Connors can be reached at mconnors@gazettenet.com.


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