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The original item was published from 3/16/2022 8:55:49 AM to 3/22/2022 12:00:02 AM.

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Posted on: March 16, 2022

[ARCHIVED] 3/10/22 Weekly COVID-19 Dashboard


Metrics are down across the board again! The 7-day average new cases per day and the percent positivity are now officially in the "green" category of transmission, according to the standing categories of risk developed by the MA Department of Public Health early in the pandemic. Hampshire County is in the yellow category of transmission according to the standing MA categories of transmission, but in the "low risk" green category of risk according to the new CDC guidance. We don't currently have data available at the city level to track how Easthampton aligns with CDC risk category guidance. We'll have to continue to track that at the county level.

We do have something to discuss this week - we have an early signal of a potential increase in cases in our area. Wastewater surveillance from Biobot Analytics indicates that the viral concentration of SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater in Hampshire County has increased slightly over the past week. This is depicted in the graph in the middle of the dashboard this week.

The concentration of viral particles in wastewater is an early indicator of cases of COVID-19. The graph in the middle of the dashboard this week demonstrates this - the dark green line is viral concentration in wastewater and the light green light is the number of new cases per 100,000 population in Hampshire County. As you can see, the shape of the dark green and light green lines are correlated although not perfectly - there is a clear pattern, but there are times when wastewater viral concentration increased slightly without a corresponding bump in cases. But obviously, a large increase in wastewater viral concentration is concerning. 

This is something to keep our eye on right now. I know this is the absolute last thing anyone wanted to hear from me this week, but I think it's good news - getting an early signal means you have choices about what you do next. This might mean that cases are going to go up in the next few weeks. You can decide what you want to do with that information, as it relates to choices you make around masking and being in public locations. It also gives you time to get vaccinated or boosted! And it may not lead to an increase in cases - so I definitely don't recommend drastic "shut down" measures in your life. Just use the information in the way that feels right for you and your family, as you consider personal risk. I hope to be back reporting it was a minor blip next week, but we'll just have to see (and, in reality, it will take more than another week to know if it's a blip or not). 

I'm also including a visual of the case rate in Hampshire County in the past 6 months, to contrast with the last 6 months of wastewater surveillance data. I'm also including a graph of the case rate in the US and in the UK over the past 6 months. What's occurring in other countries is not a perfect indicator of what might come in the US, but we have seen that viral activity in the UK sometimes is another "early indicator" of what's to come in the US. Again - something to keep in mind as you make personal decisions in the next few weeks, but nothing to panic over. 

I suspect it will be like this for a while - I hope we remain in a place with low case counts, but we'll have to remain aware of what's going on around us. Trust me, I know how exhausting even continuing to discuss it is. This information is intended to keep you up-to-date on what epidemiologists are thinking about and, hopefully, to help us not be caught off-guard by any changes. 

Take good care of each other. 

Stay well,

Megan W. Harvey, PhD, MS

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