New COVID-19 cases continue overall trend of dropping in Mass., state health officials report this week
The number of new cases of the COVID-19 virus is declining in Malden and across the state, and the testing positivity rate is lower here than in surrounding communities and schools, according to statistics available locally and reported by state officials on Wednesday. All of this is a factor in the overall fading of the highly contagious omicron variant of the virus, according to online reports.
Wednesday’s state numbers represented a large drop from the number of Coronavirus infections just one week ago. The state Department of Health (DPH) reported 14,647 cases this week, 34% fewer than the 22,184 reported last Wednesday, January 12. This week’s report also showed a continuing trend of a steep drop from the record number of cases reported on January 5. Two weeks ago, 27,612 new cases were reported, so Wednesday’s new count was a full 53% lower in numbers.
Statewide testing positivity percentages also slid dramatically from last week to this week, showing 13.7% positive cases overall, down over 40% from last week’s positivity rate of 23%. Two weeks ago, the positivity testing figure was close to 33%, a record high.
Test positivity rate and the rate per 100,000 residents are two key statistics used by local health and city officials to gauge the community and make decisions affecting programs and strategy in respective cities and towns. In Malden, there were 202 new COVID-19 cases reported in the last 14 days, with a testing positivity rate of 2.02 percent of approximately 10,000 residents tested; that represents 18.2 individuals testing positive per 100,000 residents per 100,000 in this community.
Both the percentage of positivity and the rate per 100,000 residents are lower than those in most surrounding communities.
- In Everett the positivity percentage was 2.20% and the rate per 100,000 residents at 17.2.
- In Revere there were 289 new cases reported, a positivity rate of 3.61 percent and 26.3 positives/100,000.
- In Saugus the numbers were the highest in the region, with the positivity percentage at 3.65% and 30.3 positives/100,000 residents.
- In Chelsea the positivity rate was at 2.09% and 15.5/100,000.
COVID-19 cases, absenteeism rates in Malden schools lower than in other nearby communities
Positive cases of COVID-19 reported in the Malden Public Schools (MPS) are lower than in other nearby communities. Absenteeism rates are also lower in the MPS for students and staff than in other cities and towns.
On the MPS website, www.maldenps.org, the COVID-19 dashboard shows up-to-date numbers of positive cases reported in the local schools. According to figures released Wednesday, there were 221 total cases, 180 for students and 41 staff. The MPS dashboard is updated regularly and shows the school-by-school breakdown. The student cases represent about 2.8% of the total student population of just over 6,300 now attending MPS, and the staff cases show about 8.7% of the total staff numbers of just over 450 in the local schools. Both percentages are below the percentages of nearby communities, which are running from four to five percent of students testing positive and from 15-18 percent of cases reported among staff. Some communities are even higher: close to 10 percent of students and 20 percent-plus of staff.
MPS student and staff absentee rates have also steadily dropped since the first few days after the return from the Winter Break. The number of absent staff has been far lower than that in surrounding communities amidst the COVID-10 case spike – still lower than 10% on a given day – unlike the numbers reported from surrounding communities, which have hovered at around 20 percent or above. In Boston, staff absenteeism during the initial spike in cases after the Winter Break was from 25-30% on a daily basis and remains over 20 percent.
Hospitalizations increase statewide, but fewer are in ICU
One COVID-19-related statistic that did not show a significant decline was the rate of virus-related hospitalizations. According to state figures, COVID-19 hospitalizations decreased by five patients this past week, with the state’s overall count at 3,187 patients. Officials say hospitalizations have been rising at a rapid pace. The last time the state’s hospitalization total was around 3,200 patients was in May of 2020.
One major difference at the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) is due to the availability of the vaccine and better treatments. In the ICU count of May 2020, there were 814 patients hospitalized and 619 patients were intubated.
DPH officials also broke down the “breakthrough” infections; within the total of 3,187 hospitalizations, 1,524 patients, or, 48%, were fully vaccinated. According to statistics, those unvaccinated are at a much higher risk for a more severe case and potential hospitalization.