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With multiple indicators in decline, COVID-19 risk level drops to ‘low’

  • The Greenfield Water Pollution Control Facility off Deerfield Street in Greenfield. Staff File Photo / Paul Franz

Staff Writer
Published: 1/22/2023 1:46:57 PM

After several weeks in the “high” risk level, Greenfield Health Director Jennifer Hoffman says the COVID-19 transmission risk has dropped to “low” in the four communities involved in the Contact Tracing Collaborative, which consists of Greenfield, Deerfield, Montague and Sunderland.

Between the four municipalities, there were nine active cluster infections (of three or more people at one site) last week, which remains stable compared to the week before, according to Hoffman. The volume of virus in wastewater is down, she added, and there were five hospitalizations last week, on average.

To view the most recent wastewater report, released Jan. 20, visit bit.ly/3QXdADn.

Percent positivity last week was less than 3% compared to 11% the week before. Hoffman noted, however, that there have been fewer overall PCR tests taken. The PCR testing sites at Greenfield Community College and the South County Senior Center that were operated by Curative Inc. closed in late December.

As a result, Hoffman said the four municipalities are considered to be in the green zone, equating to “low” risk, for the first time since the Contact Tracing Collaborative began using this system for evaluating transmission levels. Masking is optional.

A COVID-19 and flu vaccine clinic will be held Wednesday from 9 a.m. to noon at 20 Sanderson St. in Greenfield, where the Health Department’s offices are located.

In combination with wastewater testing — people with an active COVID-19 infection excrete the virus in their stool, and samples from wastewater treatment plants can be analyzed to estimate community virus levels — the four municipalities factor in hospitalization numbers, positivity rates and case numbers to determine risk levels. Meanwhile, health officials continue to talk with nursing homes, businesses and schools to track cluster infections. Members of the collaborative also recently added school absenteeism as a new measure to compensate for the loss of the PCR testing.

The following three zones, defined by the Contact Tracing Collaborative, are used to gauge risk levels of COVID-19 transmission in the four communities. For the risk level in the area to change, at least two measures need to apply.

Red zone: High COVID-19 risk

Masking recommended.

■Cluster infections (of three or more people at one site): five or more.

■Percent positive tests out of total tests performed: greater than 10%.

■Hospitalizations: five or more.

■Increase in case trend.

■Increase in wastewater trend.

Yellow zone: Moderate COVID-19 risk

Masking encouraged.

■One to four cluster infections.

■Stable positive testing.

■Fewer than five hospitalizations.

■Stable case incidence.

■Stable wastewater.

Green zone: Low to minimal COVID-19 risk

Masking optional.

■No cluster infections.

■Decrease in positive tests.

■Decrease in hospitalizations.

■Decrease in case incidence.

■Decreased virus copies in wastewater.

Reporter Mary Byrne can be reached at mbyrne@recorder.com or 413-930-4429. Twitter: @MaryEByrne.


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