No letup in COVID locally


For The Athol Daily News
Published: 11/26/2021 3:02:29 PM
Modified: 11/26/2021 3:02:37 PM

GARDNER — In his weekly report, given on Wednesday, Nov. 24, Heywood Healthcare president and CEO Win Brown offered more data indicating the COVID-19 virus still has a hold on the Athol-Gardner region.

Brown said that, over the course of the pandemic, Heywood has tested about 118,000 specimens, with an overall positivity rate of 5.4 percent, compared to the statewide average of 2.72.

“But what is particularly alarm,” he said, “is our seven-day rolling average of positivity, which as 14.42 percent, versus the state at 2.84 percent.”

Brown noted that Gardner is sixth-highest in the state, and that Gardner, Winchendon, and Athol are three highest for positivity in Worcester County. He said everyone should be aware of this spike heading into the holidays.

“For our community average,” he continued, “we are 47.7 (cases) out of 100,000. That’s up 15.2 per 100,000 from last week. The state average is just 23 per 100,000. So, we are more than twice the state rate. The highest rate in our service is Gardner at 68.6 per 100,000, which is up 26.9 per 100,000 from last week.

“So, obviously, we have very high volumes in our ERs and our urgent cares. First call is obviously your PCP (primary care provider) if it’s not a life-threatening emergency. So, please make sure you contact your PCP.”

“Obviously,” Brown continued, “our ERs and our urgent cares are safe, and we have incredible cleaning protocols and safety with our staff, but we have to make sure that everybody’s doing their part.”

Brown then noted the impact the current surge in COVID is having locally.

“You know,” he continued, “part of what’s happens is we’re starting to see temporary school closures because we’re seeing a big piece of our surge is among minors under age 18. Thanksgiving traditions like football games are also being canceled as well.

“We need everybody to play their role. Get your kids vaccinated. Get yourselves vaccinated. I know there is a huge hold-out population — but that’s why we keep having these surges.”

No new community vaccination rates were released by the state Thanksgiving Day. Most recent statistics show area communities show the vaccination rate for eligible residents — those who have had at least one shot — creeping up by a percentage point per week.

Athol Public Health Agent Deb Vondal said as of Wednesday, November 24, there were 117 active Covid cases in the community.

Greg Vine can be reached at

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