WOBURN - The city has now gone 21 consecutive days without seeing a double-digit rise in daily new COVID-19 cases, based upon data released yesterday.
According to the local Board of Health, Woburn is still seeing a regular uptick in residents testing positive for the novel coronavirus, with 15 new cases being identified since last Friday. However, the rate at which the outbreak is spreading appears to have dropped substantially for three weeks now.
To date, a total of 564 Woburnites have contracted the viral infection, and 90 of those cases have been identified since May 11, the day after the city recorded its highest number of daily new COVID-19 test results with 43 positives.
Since that crescendo in early May, according to statistics furnished by the Board of Health, Woburn is averaging 4.28 new cases per day. By comparison, during the previous 21-day reporting period between April 21 and May 10, the Mass. Department of Public Health (DPH) was tracking roughly 14 new case in Woburn on a daily basis.
According to city officials, there are presently 243 active COVID-19 cases, a label given to individuals who are required to serve an isolation period to prevent them from infecting others with the contagion. Public health nurses are also monitoring the health of 73 relatives and close contacts of those active cases.
Just over 300 individuals have recovered from the virus and are no longer deemed contagious. Tragically, 27 Woburn residents have died from COVID-19 complications.
As has been previously reported, the decrease in the rate of new confirmed positive test results in Woburn couldn't have come at a more perfect time, as the state is now slowly trying to revive the shuttered local economy.
Today, Mass. Governor Charles Baker is expected to announce that the second phase of the business reopening plan can begin on June 6. Under the Phase II classification, restaurants will reportedly be allowed to reopen outdoor dining areas, so long as tables are spaced at least six feet apart. Party sizes will also be capped at six customers per table.
Hotels and lodging will also be able to accept additional guests with restrictions. Lodging facilities will still be prohibited from offering amenities such as gym, conference room, and indoor pool access.
In contrast to the tightly-controlled COVID—19 reporting of neighboring communities, leaders in Woburn are constantly updating the city's coronavirus webpage with new data that includes COVID-19 breakdowns by age and gender.
The transition to the second stage of the reopening plan is faster than first envisioned, as the governor had previously predicted each phase would take as long as a month to roll out.
According to data furnished by the Mass. DPH, the number of new positive COVID-19 tests has consistently dropped below 1,000 daily cases for the first time since end of March. However, that drop in positive cases has also coincided with a substantial decrease in the number of daily tests being administered to residents across the Commonwealth.
At the height of the crisis, state officials were regularly testing between 11,000 and about 14,000 Massachusetts residents a day for the viral infection, according to DPH data.
Yet, since May 21, when total new COVID-19 cases dropped below 1,000 for what is now a streak of 12 consecutive days — the number of daily tests being administered has ranged from a low of 3,128 tests to a high of 11,126 of May 26.
Only twice during the past 12 days have more than 10,000 individuals been tested in a single day.
Other key DPH indicators nonetheless suggest the worst of the crisis might be behind Massachusetts, as the numbers of people hospitalized with COVID-19 has plummeted by nearly 47 percent since May 1, according to DPH officials. State authorities also say the number of new illness-related deaths has also decreased by nearly 65 percent (based upon a three-day average of reported casualties).
Though most surrounding towns provide details about new cases, communities vary in how often those metrics are released. In Reading, case totals are updated multiple times a week, while in Stoneham, they are only updated once weekly. In Stoneham, the local Board of Health has only twice since the outbreak began publicly commented on the number of fatalities — there have been at least 46 deaths there.
Some cities and towns in the region are also not providing information about the numbers of citizens who are serving mandatory isolation or quarantine periods.
In the latest cache of data released by the City of Woburn, where local officials have opined that an informed citizenry is better able to respond to the crisis, the Board of Health revealed the outbreak has disproportionately effected those over 80 years old.
Representing 25 percent of all local cases, at least 143 people over the age of 80 have tested positive for COVID-19. With 100 confirmed cases, the second highest cluster involves Woburnites in their thirties, who represent around 18 percent of all positive test results to date.
In a trend that has bucked worldwide outbreak patterns, women in both Woburn and Massachusetts have tested positive for COVID-19. In Woburn, 352 females have contracted the virus compared to 230 men.
Based upon information posted last night by the Board of Health, coronavirus totals by age group is as follows:
• Under 19: 14 cases;
• Aged 20-29: 72 cases;
• Aged 30-39: 100 cases;
• Aged 40-49: 67 cases;
• Aged 50-59: 72 cases;
• Aged 60-69: 73 cases;
• Aged 70-79: 41 cases;
• Over 80-years-old: 143 cases.