Covid stressing local resources; some patients moved out of state


For The Athol Daily News
Published: 9/19/2021 4:10:54 PM
Modified: 9/19/2021 4:10:56 PM

ATHOL — Low vaccination rates and the virulence of the Delta variant of the COVID-19 virus are keeping infection rates in Heywood Healthcare’s service area high. That’s according to Heywood President and CEO Win Brown.

During his weekly briefing on Friday, September 17, Brown reported on “the increasing prevalence of the Delta variant in our region and across the country.

“All the communities in our primary service area have exceeded a 10 per 100,000 suppression rate, with all communities exceeding 30 per 100,000, and Athol is at 48.9 per 100,000. So, that’s an incredibly high prevalence of the Delta variant in our region.

“Just make sure you’re doing everything you can to keep safe.”

Brown then stressed the obvious: “If you haven’t been vaccinated, please go get vaccinated. And if you influence people who can be vaccinated, get that done because we are seeing an incredible amount of positivity in our region.

“It’s obviously affecting all of the services across our health system.”

Brown went on to underline the overall seriousness of the situation across the country.

“Some sobering data from the CDC; one in 500 Americans have died from the coronavirus since it was first reported. So, for those of you who think it isn’t a real thing, it is a real thing, and you need to do what you can to support everybody in your community and in your family to make sure they stay safe. So, please, if you’re not vaccinated – one more time – get it done.

“As of Tuesday night (September 14),” he went on, “663,913 people in the U.S. have died of Covid-19. Across the country, we’re struggling to keep up with the volume of patients who are coming to seek care.

“Also, we’re seeing a high number of those coming back positive are children and adolescents; over 50 percent at this point in time.”

As for the effect locally, Brown said the continuing surge is stressing in-patient capacity at Heywood and Athol hospitals, as well as hospitals across the state and country.

“We continue to actually transfer patients out of state – as far away as Hartford, Connecticut, because there aren’t any ICU beds available when we need them. We just need to let you know how important it is that we all play our part.”

Brown stressed, as he has in the past, that anyone who is not feeling well should immediately contact their primary care physician, “seek care at our two emergency departments, or our urgent care.”

He also said a number of preciously scheduled surgeries are now on hold.

“Because of the surge, we have temporarily suspended all elective in-patient surgery - all the other hospitals in the Commonwealth will be doing that as well – to make sure we can take care of people locally.

As Brown reported, as of Sept. 16, Athol is averaging 48.9 positive cases of Covid per 100,000 residents and is averaging more than 60 new cases per week. Meanwhile, the town’s vaccination rate is stuck at only 59 percent of those eligible having received at least one shot.

Meanwhile, a Monmouth University Poll released Wednesday, Sept. 15, indicates a majority of Americans — ranging from 55 to 63 percent — support vaccine mandates for health care workers and teachers, as well as for federal employees and contractors. Just over half — 51 percent — support a mandate for school children ages 12 and older.

The same poll indicates the number of Americans who say they will never get a vaccine under any circumstances is just over 20 percent.

Greg Vine can be reached at

E-Edition & Local Ads


athol forecast

Social Media

Athol Daily News

14 Hope Street,
Greenfield, MA 01302-1367
Telephone: (413) 772-0261
FAX (413) 772-2906


Copyright © 2021 by Newspapers of Massachusetts, Inc.