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Positive COVID-19 test rates are surging in Brookfield, North Brookfield, and Spencer, while Worcester's positive test rate is below the month's high in the city, according to the most recent information from the Baker Administration.

Meanwhile, in West Brookfield and Webster, the 14-day COVID-19 positive test rate is going down.

In Massachusetts, the goal is that by December the state will have less than 5 percent of COVID-19 tests come back positive. On Aug. 1, Gov. Charlie Baker reported the state’s 7-day positive test rate was at 2.1 percent, up from a low of 1.7 percent earlier this month. (Massachusetts does not provide 7-day positive test rates for municipalities, only 14-day rates.)

Every Worcester County community met that 5 percent goal in the most recent reporting period released by the governor’s office on Friday, July 31.

In Brookfield the positive test rate went up from 1 percent on July 17, to 1.9 on July 29, the most recent information available. North Brookfield went up from 1.2 on July 17 to 1.9 on July 29.

West Brookfield's positive test rate has decreased over the last three reporting periods starting at 2.5 on July 17 and dropping to 0.5 on July 29. The same can be said for Webster, which went from 2 percent to 1 percent.

Since Jan. 1 Massachusetts has had a total of 110,077 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and administered 1.55 million tests. The total number of COVID-19 deaths in the state is 8,406 people.

Here is a breakdown of local COVID-19 data: presenting the total number of infections recorded per community since the beginning of the pandemic and the 14-day positive test rate, percent in parenthesis ( ), for the cities and towns in your community:


Athol 68 (0.3)

Barre 62 (0)

Brookfield 22 (1.9)

Clinton 261 (1.2)

East Brookfield 13 (0)

Fitchburg 814 (1.3)

Gardner 199 (0.6)

Hopedale 47 (0.9)

Hubbardston 7 (0)

Leominster 718 (1.6)

Lunenburg 67 (0.5)

Milford 668 (1.5)

North Brookfield 20 (1.9)

Northborough 227 (0.9)

Oxford 84 (1.4)

Petersham 7 (0)

Rutland 54 (0)

Shrewsbury 346 (1.5)

Southbridge 185 (2.1)

Spencer 61 (2.9)

Sturbridge 45 (0.8)

Upton 25 (0)

Uxbridge 80 (0.4)

Warren 26 (0.8)

Webster 270 (1)

West Brookfield 24 (0.5)

Westborough 345 (0.8)

Winchendon 89 (0)

Worcester 5,483 (2.2)

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More signs airborne coronavirus can infect you: Hospital discovers contagious virus particles floating 16 FEET away from patients

There is currently a great deal of controversy about how much of a role liquid droplets in the air - or aerosols - play in spreading the novel coronavirus.

But a new study from the University of Florida has confirmed that these droplets don't just contain bits of genetic material, but are actually infectious.

Air samples collected from a hospital room found contagious virus particles between seven feet and 16 feet away from patients lying in their beds.

The latter is much greater distance than the six feet guidelines recommended by public health experts to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.  

In a new study from the University of Florida, researchers took air samples from a hospital room with two coronavirus patients, one of whom had an active infection (above)

Infectious coronavirus particles were found in air samples taken between seven feet and 16 feet away from the patients (above)

Up until recently, the World Health Organization (WHO) claimed aerosol transmission of coronavirus was only possible in hospitals during medical procedures with nebulizers and suctioning.

Last month, the WHO formally recognized that SARS-CoV-2, the official name of the virus, can be carried by aerosols.

But there are still many experts, among agencies such as the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Public Health England, who have downplayed the role of aerosols and focused on droplets spread via coughing and sneezing.

Aerosol spread occurs when respiratory droplets produce tiny particles, measuring less than five micrometers, which is smaller than a particle of pollen.

These aerosols can be inhaled, and if enough are, have the ability to cause infection.   

This method is more dangerous in terms of transmission than respiratory droplets, but can be lessened by avoiding crowded indoor spaces.

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For the study, published on the pre-print site, the team collected air samples from the room of two coronavirus patients at the University of Florida Health Shands Hospital.  

One of the patients had an active infection and neither underwent medical procedures that the WHO claims are the primary drivers of aerosol transmission.

What's more, the room had been previously outfitted with safety measures such as six air changes per hour and ultraviolet lights.

Researchers used viable virus aerosol samplers, which enlarged aerosolized virus particles to capture them, and then tested them.

Tests showed that viable virus capable of infection was found in samples collected between seven and 16 feet (two to 4.8 meters) away from patients. 

The genome sequence of the virus found in air samples was identical to that from a swab of the patient with the active infection.

The genome sequencing of the virus in the air samples was the same as that of the swab of the patient with the active infection. Pictured: A member of the medical staff treats a patient who is wearing helmet-based ventilator in the COVID-19 ICU at the United Memorial Medical Center in Houston, Texas, July 28

Several experts say this is clear evidence of the danger of aerosol spread, including Dr Linsey Marr, an engineering professor at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. 

'If this isn't a smoking gun, then I don't know what is,' she tweeted last week.

The team says the public health implications of the findings are broad because the current best practices for limiting coronavirus spread are social distancing, wearing masks and washing hands. 

However, measures such as standing six feet apart are not helpful in an indoor setting when it comes to aerosol transmission. 

'With the current surges of cases, to help stem the COVID-19 pandemic, clear guidance on control measures against SARS-CoV-2 aerosols are needed, as recently voiced by other scientists,' the authors wrote. 

In the US, there are currently more than 5.1 million confirmed cases of the virus and more than 164,000 deaths.

Read more:
  • Viable SARS-CoV-2 in the air of a hospital room with COVID-19 patients | medRxiv

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