Western Massachusetts towns seeing more COVID-19 testing after recent spike

Hampden County

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AGAWAM, Mass. (WWLP) – A dozen western Massachusetts communities are now in the state’s high-risk red category for covid-19.

Western Massachusetts is going backward when it comes to limiting the spread of COVID-19. Residents like Zakiya Watson that live in red category cities like Springfield have told 22News that the backward trend is a shock.

“I thought we were doing pretty well, but now it’s bumped up just like they said it would, you know in the winter. But we are doing our part,” said Watson.

But a lot of people haven’t, western Massachusetts communities into the red category. One of those being Agawam, where police officers have contracted covid and students are no longer in the classroom.

A significant rise in cases led Agawam to go back to remote learning for two weeks. And we asked the Mayor what caused cases to go up so fast and where the town goes from here. According to Mayor Bill Sapelli, most of the recent cases in their town are a result of large gatherings.

Sapelli told 22News, “You can’t let your guard down, that’s ridiculous. I know we are all tired of this but what’s the alternative you gotta wear your mask. You gotta stay distant and you gotta stop having these gatherings. If we do that, we’ll get back to where we were I truly believe that.”

Less than 1 percent of all students and staff have contracted COVID-19, which the Mayor says proves that following the guidelines does work.

“Person to person transmission in the schools so far as I’ve seen, far as we’ve seen hasn’t really happened because we aren’t seeing these clusters the largest clusters,” said Sapelli. “So one of the safest places as it appears to be is the schools.”

The reason they had to shut down the schools was because their two-week positivity test rate went above three percent, which is something the town wants changed.

Sapelli expects they’ll be able to come to an agreement with the teachers union on moving up the positivity test rate for closing the schools. A startling trend they’re noticing about covid-19, it’s spreading more so among hockey teams in town.

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