WINCHESTER - Contrary to the President of the United States acting like COVID-19 isn’t that big of a deal (even though he contracted it and wound up needing an air lift to Walter Reed Medical Center so the best doctors in the country could monitor his symptoms), it’s actually quite the opposite. 210,000 people have died in the US alone, with more than one million worldwide succumbing to this deadly virus.
In Winchester, it managed to survive the past seven months with a relatively low case count (135 total as of this week). The town confirmed eight people died from the coronavirus.
Compared to surrounding communities, Winchester handled the pandemic rather well. Health Director Jenn Murphy said that as of Sept. 30, only .25 percent of residents tested positive for the virus. This compares favorably to neighboring communities like Woburn (1.78 percent), Burlington (1.42 percent), Lexington (.30 percent), Arlington (.53 percent), and Belmont (.29 percent).
Out of those who tested positive, Murphy said only seven were school-aged children, and four of those became positive before school even began.
How do you keep numbers low? You do “robust” contact-tracing, something Winchester is doing currently (and something the White House reportedly isn’t doing, even though a dozen people associated with the president tested positive in recent days).
To continue that, the health director requested the cooperation of residents. She stressed that any resident who tests positive and is contacted by the town won’t be judged on how they contracted the virus; they’ll simply be asked for information regarding who they came into contact with and how long ago.
Going forward, to keep residents informed on the state of the town during the coronavirus pandemic, Murphy directed residents to a data dashboard on the town’s website (www.winchester.us). This page contains a breakdown of the virus: how if affects people by gender, age range, etc. It also shows month-by-month infection rates.
Those rates decreased when the town instituted its mask policy (proving that masks do, in fact, work). The state followed shortly thereafter and the infection rate started trending in the right direction (only recently has Massachusetts seen an uptick in COVID-19 cases).
“We’re in a good spot,” Murphy exclaimed, noting the lack of sustained community or in-school transmission.
When Murphy breaks it down, the data shows the virus mostly affects residents 60 years and older, but it also affects those between the ages of 0 and 18. However, all deaths occurred to those over the age of 70.
The virus infects women more than men, 62 percent to 38 percent. 80 percent of those infected display symptoms such as fatigue and headache. 16 percent wind up in the hospital and 50 percent end up medically compromised. In all, 90 percent make a full recovery.
Thankfully, Murphy said nursing homes haven’t seen a case since June. They’ve had 37 total and six deaths.