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Over the hump? Pittsfield health officials say the city has likely made it through the post-holiday COVID surge

Pittsfield January 2023 coronavirus data

Pittsfield Health Department Director Andy Cambi told the city's Board of Health on Wednesday that recent coronavirus case counts and wastewater data show the city has made it through a winter virus surge.

PITTSFIELD — The city may be reaching the other side of a post-holiday surge in coronavirus cases, according to Pittsfield health officials.

And looking back on nearly three years of pandemic, the city’s Health Department Director Andy Cambi said, Pittsfield fared better this year than in the previous years.

“I think that we can say that we are over our winter surge — what we normally experience at the end of the holidays and the beginning of the new year,” Cambi told the Board of Health at a Wednesday night meeting. “Compared to last year, it wasn’t as extensive.”

Cambi ran through the latest data with the board, which shows a general decline in both the average daily case rate and presence of the virus in monitored wastewater.

As of Monday, the 14-day average daily case rate was 18.2 cases per 100,000 people. The data shows a decline from the month’s peak of 35.1 cases per 100,000 people on Jan. 9.

Wastewater data, which health officials have called the more reliable measure of the coronavirus’ spread through the community as clinical testing has become less popular, also showed a decline.

Wastewater data from Jan. 18 proved to be the highest virus concentration since October, with the seven-day average concentration hitting 2.4 million copies per liter of wastewater.

As of Saturday the virus concentration had declined to 1.1 million copies per liter of wastewater.

Data from Biobot, the company responsible for measuring the virus concentration and sequencing the strain of coronavirus in the wastewater, shows that the primary coronavirus variant in Berkshire County wastewater is XBB.

The company’s data groups together all currently circulating subvariants of XBB, including XBB1.5 variant. This subvariant, which has been dubbed the “Kraken” variant, is an offshoot of the omicron variant that sent case counts spiking in early 2022.

Dr. James W. Lederer Jr., the chief medical officer and chief quality officer at Berkshire Health Systems, prescribed continued community caution in reference to the strain in a recent interview with The Eagle. Lederer described the subvariant XBB1.5 as “highly, highly transmissible.”

Biobot data reports that 72.7 percent of the virus material found in county wastewater comes from the XBB variants.

For the time being, Cambi said case counts and hospital censuses remain low. He told the board the new case report showed promise, with only two new cases reported to department staff on Wednesday.

Meg Britton-Mehlisch can be reached at mbritton@berkshireeagle.com or 413-496-6149.

Pittsfield Reporter

Meg Britton-Mehlisch is the Pittsfield reporter for The Berkshire Eagle. Born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri, she previously worked at the Prior Lake American and its sister publications under the Southwest News Media umbrella in Savage, Minnesota.

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