Pittsfield Back in Red Zone for COVID-19
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A spike in COVID-19 cases has pushed the city back into the "red zone."
The city's positivity rate was at 5.9 on Sunday with an average case rate of 47.1 per 100,000. This is a stark contrast to the positivity rate of 2.1 in late March when there were only about 13 cases per 100,000 people.
Pittsfield entered the red incidence rate for transmission on Friday when the positivity rate rose to 5.3 percent. This risk category is defined by having equal to or more than 10 average cases per 100,000 and having a five percent or higher positivity rate in a 14-day period.
Director of Public Health Andy Cambi said on Monday that no immediate actions are being taken for the spike right now but he is sure that will be brought up in discussion at next week's Board of Health meeting.
The city will continue to monitor the data, he added. Cambi also confirmed that the spike is associated with a new variant. He did not confirm which variant, but the omicron BA.2 subvariant is now predominant in the United States. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, it is more contagious but does not seem to be as severe as omicron, which surged over the fall and holidays.
There are about 148 estimated actively contagious cases in the city and there were 25 new cases on Sunday.
Last week, there were eight positive cases at Berkshire Medical Center and five on Monday. Statewide, only about 30 percent of patients who test positive are in the hospital primarily because of the virus.
Biobot sewage testing showed a virus concentration spike that peaked on April 19 with a seven-day average of 902,000 copies of the virus per liter and has since subsided to 306.3K. This testing is intended to predict virus trends in the city.
In early March, the positivity rate dipped into the yellow zone after the city spent months in the red. To be in the yellow zone, a community must have 10 or fewer average cases per 100,000 people or have a 5 percent or less positivity rate.
Around that time, Superintendent Joseph Curtis announced that mask-wearing is now optional in Pittsfield Public Schools. Earlier in the month, he stated the mask mandate would be lifted in the first or second week of March.
In February, the Board of Health voted to move the city's masking directive implemented in November to a masking advisory.
Cases began surging in November and the city entered the red zone late that month. Early that month, the Board of Health voted to implement a mask directive stating that masks should be worn in all publicly accessible indoor spaces in the city unless seated at a table eating food or drink.
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