Over the last 14 days, City of Pittsfield health officials report 46 new positive COVID-19 cases in the city, a concerning rise mainly attributed to large private gatherings, including house parties and group dining at restaurants. The updated public health data was shared during the city’s COVID-19 Task Force meeting on Friday.
"The cases are exploding and they are related to a couple of specific gatherings,” said Health Director Gina Armstrong. “The ripple effect is significant. That’s why we are urging residents to follow the safety guidelines. Avoid indoor and close quarter gatherings as these spaces are prime environments for spreading COVID.”
Mayor Linda Tyer said the city is strengthening all of the protocols established in the winter and spring that helped the community navigate the initial surge of the pandemic. This will include increasing the number of public health nurses to support contact tracing efforts for new cases.
“The alarming rise in new cases ought to grab everyone’s attention. We must all double down on the COVID-19 safety practices that got us through the surge,” Tyer said. “When we adhere to these safety protocols, we’re protecting ourselves, our family, friends, and our colleagues.”
While these gatherings have resulted in additional cases, they have also sparked tremendous concern among those who believe they may been exposed to COVID-19, prompting a desire to be tested immediately, said Public Health Nurse Kayla Donnelly-Winters. This is understandable, but there’s a very specific set of actions that need to be followed to ensure the most accurate test results, she said.
“First, self-quarantine as soon as you know you’ve been around someone with COVID-19. Second, individuals who are experiencing COVID-19 related symptoms should promptly seek testing through the Berkshire Medical Center testing site,” said Donnelly-Winters. Throughout the pandemic, the BMC testing site has served as the city’s trusted health care partner. To arrange a test, please call the BMC Link Line is open 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. seven days a week. However, for those who are not symptomatic, but believe they may have had exposure to COVID-19, it’s extremely important that they are not tested prematurely, she said.
“I understand why people would want to be tested immediately, but there really needs to be a four-day incubation period after first learning of exposure to prevent a false negative,” said Donnelly-Winters.
Individuals who are identified as close contacts will also receive a call from a Public Health Nurse to provide further guidance on testing.
For more information, please visit the COVID-19 page on the city’s website at cityofpittsfield.org.