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More free test kits on their way to Pittsfield as city sees other side of omicron surge

Daily case rates for Pittsfield as of February 2022

The latest Pittsfield coronavirus update appears to show that the city has reached the other side of a winter case surge brought on by the omicron variant.

PITTSFIELD — City officials have submitted an order to the state for additional free rapid coronavirus tests after distributing more than 10,000 test kits in three weeks, according to Health Department Director Andy Cambi.

Cambi told the Board of Health Wednesday night that the the tests are currently back ordered but should arrive to the city within the next three weeks. He added that the new test kits will be distributed by the Health Department and Berkshire Athenaeum.

The health director continued to use rarely uttered words to sum up his most recent coronavirus update for Pittsfield: good news.

Cambi referenced the latest data from the city’s wastewater and the daily case rate which appears to indicate declining coronavirus in the city.

Pittsfield wastewater data as of February 2022

Pittsfield Health Department officials are optimistic over recent wastewater data which shows a decrease of coronavirus in the city's sewage.

The two week-average daily case rates saw a rapid increase following the Christmas holiday, peaking on January 16 at 283.08 cases per 100,000 people. Cambi said the latest data shows the two week-average daily case rate is now at 176.96 cases per 100,000 people.

Virus concentration in the city’s wastewater hit its lowest point since before the last surge caused by the omicron variant. The virus concentration in city sewage, which the Health Department uses to estimate how coronavirus case numbers will trend in the following week to two weeks, has been on a consistent decline since Jan. 11.

The number of new cases reported in the city was up to 72 on Tuesday after almost a week of new case counts in the 40s and 30s. Cambi said his department is still tracking new case spikes but are still optimistic about the overall trend of the data.

“We had our COVID nurse manager and our contact tracing team go over with the data and they can confer that this is usually what we see, as we’re starting to see the decreases — that numbers will be some days higher, some of these lower,” Cambi said. “So good news to see that happening.”

Vaccination rates in the city have continued to increase following a series of public vaccination clinics hosted by the Berkshire Vaccine Collaborative. About 86 percent of eligible Pittsfield residents have received one dose of a coronavirus vaccine and 74 percent are fully vaccinated.

Pittsfield vaccination rates as of February 2022

Health Department Director Andy Cambi credited recent vaccine clinics for helping to increase the city's vaccination rate.

The health director also credited the board’s decision in November to issue a mask directive with keep the omicron surge from being “chaos.”

The board decided again to keep the directive in place through this month but member Steve Smith said the day may soon be approaching when the directive is removed all together.

“Knock on wood [the data] will go down even farther and we cannot discuss moving into a mandate but removing the directive all together,” Smith said.

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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