Haverhill officially went into the red yesterday in its battle against COVID-19.
The Commonwealth’s weekly report shows the city has had 1,553 of COVID-19 with 129 cases in the last two weeks. There were 146 positive test results during the same period for an infection rate of 3.27%. Mayor James J. Fiorentini foretold of the city’s slide into the higher risk “red zone” at this week’s City Council meeting.
“Tonight, I sadly report to the people of Haverhill that our city is slipping backwards in the fight against COVID-19. The state official records, when they’re released tomorrow, we will be in the red zone for the first time after having been so proud that our numbers were so low and we were in the green zone for so long,” he said.
The mayor said over the past two weeks Haverhill has had approximately 150 cases compared to 37 cases for the previous two weeks. He blamed much of the increase in a recent outbreak at the Lakeview Nursing Home where 58 people have tested positive. He also noted that 18 other cases came from a local house of worship, which have since stopped holding services.
School pediatrician John L. Maddox, a member of the mayor’s Medical Advisory Panel, explained how the color-coding system works.
“We know that to be in red, your average daily incident rate per 100,000 residents gets above eight. So, if it’s below four, you’re green. If it’s four to eight, you’re yellow and if it’s above eight, you’re red. What that translates to for a city of about 65,000 people is that over a two-week period, that happened to be 52 cases,” Maddox explained.
The mayor said the new numbers point out the need for increased testing.
“It’s really critical that everyone be tested because about 30 percent of the positives that we’re seeing are completely asymptomatic. They don’t feel any symptoms whatsoever,” he said.
To that end, the city and state have teamed up to provide free testing for anyone at a mobile testing site at the Locke Street parking lot across from Dunkin’ Donuts. The site is open weekdays between 1 and 6 p.m. through Oct. 6. It will then move to Washington Street for another week. He said people being tested only need to provide their name and phone number in order to receive the results, which should take two days.
Maddox added that anyone who test positive should isolate themselves from others, including family members, for 14 days.