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7 self-isolating, 38 quarantining in Greenfield following indoor gathering that led to COVID-19 case uptick

Staff Writer
Published: 10/23/2020 6:27:15 PM
Modified: 10/23/2020 6:27:04 PM

GREENFIELD — City officials say a firefighter and six others are self-isolating and 38 others are quarantining following a recent indoor gathering that resulted in an uptick in positive COVID-19 cases.

Interim Health Director Jennifer Hoffman explained the seven self-isolating individuals have tested positive for the virus, while the 38 who are quarantining were in contact with the seven positive individuals and are waiting to see if they begin to exhibit symptoms. Those who are quarantining include three people who are considered to be “probable” cases, Hoffman said, meaning it is likely they will test positive, as well.

“We’ve been contact tracing since mid-March, so we’ve got it down, and we started as soon as we learned about the gathering and people testing positive,” Hoffman said. “The uptick stems from an indoor gathering that happened in a nearby town recently.”

City officials said for privacy reasons they are not releasing the names of anyone who tested positive, anyone who has been contacted or the town where the indoor gathering occurred.

“People can be sure we are on top of this, contacting everyone who needs to be informed,” Hoffman said.

Greenfield Fire Chief Robert Strahan said it doesn’t matter where the gathering happened; what matters is that people understand they shouldn’t be gathering in large groups, especially indoors, because there’s too much potential for COVID-19 to spread rapidly.

“People still need to be extremely careful,” said Strahan, who is also the city’s emergency management director. “People still need to be taking steps to minimize their risk, especially if they choose to participate in activities. They shouldn’t let their guard down, especially now that we’re into fall and heading toward winter. Greenfield is still operating in a state of emergency.”

Mayor Roxann Wedegartner’s Chief of Staff Danielle Letourneau said the city is providing a weekly report that people can access on the Health Department’s web page at bit.ly/3omF4Ub. She said the mayor also provides the information weekly on her official Facebook page.

“It provides details like new and active cases,” Letourneau said. “People just need to remember to be vigilant. This is a small city, a small county, so something like that is going to spread fast.”

The state also provides weekly numbers every Wednesday or Thursday, reporting numbers for a two-week period. This week, it reported that nine towns in the county each have five or fewer cases, and it reported that Buckland has five cases.

The towns that report five or fewer cases over the past two weeks are: Bernardston, Colrain, Deerfield, Greenfield (although it is now known that number is out-of-date by at least two positive cases), Montague, Northfield, Orange and Sunderland (which moved out of the state’s high-risk category this week). Athol also has five or fewer cases.

Baystate Franklin Medical Center in Greenfield reports daily numbers, and so far this week has confirmed no positive COVID-19 cases.

Hoffman said what people need to consider when making plans to gather is that while they might be young and healthy — the recent gathering was “young people,” though she didn’t say how young — they could pass COVID-19 along to a parent or grandparent.

“You have to think about who you might be affecting,” she said. “A few people were exposed at this recent gathering, but a lot of people have to quarantine because they had some sort of contact with them. If people gather, they should do so safely by staying outside with heaters, gather in small groups, wear masks, wash hands and social distance. This is so important.”

Hoffman said when she and Megan Tudryn, the city’s contact tracing nurse, do what they do after learning of exposure to someone who tested positive for COVID-19, they check not only with the people who tested positive, but they ask where they have been and who they have come in contact with. Then, they call all of those people.

“Megan has been working unbelievable hours, spending a lot of time contact tracing,” Hoffman said. “It’s really important that people who have been exposed quarantine for two weeks or get tested themselves.”

Hoffman said she is already looking ahead to Thanksgiving.

“If people want to gather, it should be outside with heaters,” she said. “They shouldn’t travel or fly, if at all possible, because they’ll have to quarantine or be tested when they return. If they do go to see relatives, they should stay in hotels.”

Hoffman said if people do gather inside, they should keep the windows open, keep visits short and take all precautions.

“People think, “I’m done with the virus,’ but the virus isn’t done with us,” she said. “We all also need to remember it’s cold and flu season, as well, so it might be a little tough going.”

Wedegartner said it is unfortunate that Greenfield has seen an uptick, because it has stayed relatively steady in the number of new cases over the past three months, but said it isn’t a surprise to hear of new cases, especially as the county heads into fall and winter. The increase follows both state and national trends.

Greenfield reports 237 cumulative COVID-19 cases and 74 deaths since mid-March. There have been 238 recoveries — the recovery number includes clinical or presumed positive cases, so that’s why numbers don’t match. The deaths counted by the city are those who have died and received a positive test for COVID-19, but the virus is not necessarily the cause of death. No deaths have been reported over the past two weeks.

For more information, call the Department of Public Health at 413-772-1404 or the COVID-19 Resource and Information line at 413-775-6411 between 9 a.m. and noon. Or, visit bit.ly/2TbbnXR. The Department of Public Health’s COVID-19 Dashboard can be found at bit.ly/2Tg9zgp.

Reach Anita Fritz at 413-772-9591 or afritz@recorder.com.




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