WOBURN - As Woburn’s COVID-19 outbreak worsened yet again according to a recently issued state report, local officials last Friday acknowledged the troubling trend and steered concerned citizens to the city’s website for easy to view information on viral transmission data.
In a brief posting on the City of Woburn’s website yesterday, Mayor Scott Galvin assured residents that city leaders are closely monitoring new COVID-19 cases and other virus metrics, which have now been steadily increasing for the better-part of four consecutive weeks.
“As the numbers continue to increase, the City of Woburn continues to monitor the latest COVID-19 case numbers and vaccination data across the state and the city. To stay updated on the latest information, visit the Covid Center page [on our city’s website], which includes weekly Woburn-specific reporting on both case numbers and vaccination data,” City Hall officials wrote in a message to the general public on Friday.
Based upon a community-level report issued by the Mass. Department of Public Health (DPH) last Thursday, at least 129 residents tested positive for COVID-19 between on Oct. 31 and ended Nov. 13. At least 95 of those cases were reported during the second or more-recent half of that 14-day reporting phase.
Perhaps most concerning, Woburn’s case positivity rate jumped to just below 4 percent after being recorded at 3.38 percent a week prior. Both state and federal public health officials have stated that any positivity rate above 5 percent as posing a serious threat to at-risk populations within cities and towns.
The metric, which represents the total number of people seeking out testing from Woburn who received a positive result over a two-week period, had been ranging at around 2 percent as of DPH’s Oct. 21 report on community-level outbreak trends.
Also climbing per last Thursday’s DPH report is Woburn’s 14-day case incidence rate, which jumped to a 29.2 after coming in at a 23.2 the week prior. As of Oct. 21, Woburn had a 13.2 case incidence rate, which contrasts new infections over a two-week period to a community’s overall population.
The city’s COVID-19 metrics are starting to climb just as many Massachusetts’ residents are getting ready to travel or welcome guests for the Thanksgiving holiday later this week.
Last year, local and state officials noticed what later proved to be the start of the pandemic’s second wave right after the Thanksgiving break.
Though Woburn’s COVID-19 indicators have been climbing at an increasingly concerning level, transmission dynamics were far more elevated heading in the Thanksgiving break last year.
In fact, per DPH’s community-level report from Nov. 19 of 2020, Woburn’s case incidence rate was much higher at 40.9, while the community’s positivity rate stood at 5.3 percent. Likewise, in the two-week period preceding the November holiday last year, nearly twice as many - or 238 local residents - had just tested positive for the viral infection.
Last year, Woburn’s schools were still operating in a hybrid format in the run-up to Thanksgiving, meaning only half of local pupils were in the classroom in any given week.
According to a report issued by the Mass. Department of Elementary and Secondary Eduction (DESE) last Thursday, cases involving students and educators have been spiking in recent weeks, which nearly 29 such infections being recorded between Nov. 11 and Nov. 17. Five of the newest cases were traced to school employees.
The week prior, or between Nov. 4 and Nov. 10, 21 new cases were reported to DESE. Meanwhile, between Oct. 28 and Nov. 3, 18 new COVID-19 infections were traced back to local students and staff members.
Since classes resumed in September, at least 134 Woburn students and school workers have tested positive for the contagion. Only 15 of those cases have involved teachers or other district employees.
When DESE first began releasing its counts of district-level COVID-19 infections in late September, state officials stressed that its reporting does not make a distinction between in school transmissions and instances where school cases originate from outside of an educational setting.
Nonetheless school officials in Woburn and across the state have insisted that based upon contact tracing efforts, conducted by local Boards of Health for the purposes of issuing quarantine orders, there is little evidence the virus is actively spreading within schools.