READING - The latest weekly COVID-19 report issued by the state yesterday shows a sudden and promising reversal of a three-week uptick in case transmission metrics within Reading.
As reported on Thursday by the Mass. Department of Public Health (DPH) in a weekly community-level pandemic report, the percentage of Reading residents testing positive for COVID-19 dipped ever so slightly from 3.87 to 3.79 percent. Meanwhile, the community's average daily incidence rate, a calculation that contrasts newly confirmed and infective COVID-19 cases to overall population size, dropped for the first time in weeks from 29.4 to 28.9.
DPH used data collected between March 14 and March 27 for all the latest calculations in yesterday's report.
The state months ago identified case positivity and daily incidence rate statistics as the most important factors for cities and towns to consider when determining the severity of community-level outbreaks of COVID-19. Though the label no longer has anything to do with school reopening decisions, the state's entire color-coded COVID-19 classification system is based exclusively on the two metrics.
Reading has been labeled as a moderate risk or "yellow" community in terms of COVID-19 transmission rates for over two months now.
Though the community surveillance report has shown both key indicators steadily creeping upwards throughout the month of March, the upswing is quite muted when contrasted with dramatic spike in COVID-19 transmissions last winter.
Between March 4 and March 25, Reading's average daily incidence rate rose from 17.8 to 29.4, before dropping by less than a point per yesterday's DPH release. During the same timeframe, the town's case positivity rate has gone from 2.24 percent on March 4 to a 3.87 percent rate on March 25.
By contrast, during the month of December, when public health officials began sounding the alarm about statewide spikes in new COVID-19 cases, Reading's daily incidence rate nearly tripled from a 21.4 on Dec. 3 to 59.6 on Dec. 29. The municipality's case positivity rate during that same five-week period also rose by more than 3 percent from 3.07 to 6.13 percent.
Reading's second surge in cases peaked in early January. The average daily incidence rate crested at 79 on Jan. 14, when the case positivity crescendo was also reached at 8.15 percent.
To date, according to the latest DPH report, some 1,934 Reading residents have tested positive for COVID-19 since local officials confirmed the town's first case in March of 2020.
DPH officials say 55,562 COVID-19 tests have been performed on town citizens since the pandemic began. Roughly 26,000 people reside in the community.