WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The town's health inspector said Thursday he has no idea why the commonwealth's COVID-19 Community Level map is showing Williamstown as the lone "yellow" community in Berkshire County.
"I don't know where those numbers are coming from," Jeff Kennedy said. "I'm checking my computer. I'm checking the communicable disease database. I talked with my public health nurse.
"We only have, basically, one positive [COVID-19 test] in town right now, and that's the one you know about at Williams that's under isolation."
Late Wednesday, the state Department of Public Health posted its latest weekly map categorizing all 351 Massachusetts municipalities as "higher risk (red), moderate risk (yellow), or lower risk (green)" for the current rate of spread of the novel coronavirus.
According to the map, Williamstown has had five cases in the last two weeks and an average daily incidence rate per 100,000 people of 4.85.
It is one of four communities in Western Massachusetts designated as yellow, joining Easthampton, Holyoke and Wilbraham on that list. Monson is the lone town in the region listed in the red, with an incidence rate per 100,000 of 8.47, according to the commonwealth.
Williamstown's Kennedy was at a loss to explain how the town of 7,700 moved from grey (fewer than five reported cases) to yellow (4 to 8 cases per 100,000) in the period from Sept. 2 to Sept. 9.
"It's one of the glitches in the system," he said. "I wasn't aware of it until I got a couple of emails coming in, including one from Win Stuebner."
Stuebner, a member of the town's Board of Health, said Thursday morning he was not aware of the town's designation as yellow until after he received a phone call from iBerkshires.com seeking comment.
"Of course, we knew we had the two at the college," Stuebner said.
Williams College maintains a public "dashboard" of test results from the testing program it stood up on Aug. 17. It currently shows two positives since Aug. 17 out of 7,427 tests; one positive was in the last seven days.
"The first case at Williams, there were no exposures [in town]," Stuebner said. "He or she was dropped off by their parents and went right to the testing area. The second one at Williams came by bus. Ten other students are currently quarantined as well as the driver. But no cases I'm aware of have popped up from that."
Kennedy speculated it was possible that Williamstown is being "credited" with a diagnosis that happened outside of town of someone, like a student, who lists the North Berkshire community as their hometown.
He said he would ask the town's designated public health nurse to contact DPH to find out why the map designation does not match the numbers on the ground.
Kennedy said he has notified officials at the Mount Greylock Regional School District, which has triggers in its reopening plan based on the town's status under the green/yellow/red designations, that the designation as yellow appears to be without basis.
"I don't know how we got yellow," Kennedy said. "Maybe someone got overambitious with a highlighter."
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this shows 4-8 per 100,000. Since Williamstown only has a population of 7,000. Even one case would exceed the standard, duh! In fact one case = 14 per 100,000 residents.
100,000 divided by 7,000 = 14.3
If population = 9,000, 100,000 divided by 9,000 equals 11.1 per one case.
In response to the above comment: I thought the same, until I read through the interactive map linked in the story. They are defining the x cases per 100,000 population *daily average* over a 14-day period (Aug. 23 - Sept. 5).
So the math would be: 5 cases (supposedly) in 14 days = 5/14 = .357 per 7700 population or 4.63 percent per 100,000 population.
It does seem like a very convoluted way of presenting the data.
And by the way the map is extremely inaccurate in showing actual rates of risk from town to town. The "less than 5 cases" cutoff is completely arbitrary. Consider if the town of Florida (pop. 752), 1/10th the population of Williamstown, had 4 cases in the past 14 days. They would be grey. Yet their per capita daily cases rate would be 4/14 = .286 / 752 = 38.0 cases per 100,000, nearly 9 times higher than Williamstown's.
The facts for Williamstown are that during that two-week period there has been probably the largest influx of people and the most robust testing per capita anywhere in the county, yet with an incredibly low infection rate. We should be thrilled with those numbers.
Why iBerkshires found it necessary to be all gotcha with town officials over a color on a map is maybe the real question in this nonstory.
The Holiday Walk features a variety of activities, sales and raffles.
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The 40th annual Holiday Walk is bigger than ever, with even more opportunities to ring in the season — in and out of Williamstown.
The three-day celebration gets underway on Friday and includes a jam–packed schedule Saturday that begins in the neighboring town of Hancock and ends in the city of North Adams.
"There's a ton going on in the region the next couple of weeks," Williamstown Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Susan Briggs said this week. "I was just on a call talking about that. Berkshire County likes to celebrate our holidays, and there are only a couple of weekends to do it.
"It's a busy time."
Falling each year just after Thanksgiving and before Williams College turns its attention to final exams, Holiday Walk is one of the signature events of the Williamstown Chamber.
And this year, organizers made a slight tweak to one of Holiday Walk's longest standing traditions: the Reindog Parade.
"The parade is an hour earlier," Briggs said. "Judging is at 1:30, and the parade will be at 2."
The 1,500-word proposed policy came to the full panel via its policy subcommittee and would appear to replace two existing policies, titled "Library Materials Selection and Adoption" and "Library Resources," that add up to about 800 words on the topic.
click for more
The Mounties Saturday earned a 25-22, 25-19, 25-14 win over Bourne in the Division 5 State Championship match to complete a perfect season and wrap up a magnificent career for seven seniors. click for more
Alice Culver placed sixth in the state on Saturday at Fort Devens to lead the Millionaires to a runner-up showing in the team standings – the best individual and team finishes by the county contingent at the meet. click for more