Framingham’s daily rate of known new Covid-19 cases dropped to 7 per 100,000 population over the most recent 14-day period, according to data released today by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. That’s considerably lower than the state-wide average of 20.3 per 100K.
Test positivity dropped below 1% (at 0.95%) for the first time since July. The statewide average positivity is 1.92%.
While number of tests administered in the city was basically flat (down 0.3%) versus the prior period, number of known cases declined more than 16%.
Rates are dropping despite return to school in early September. It’s difficult to say for certain why Framingham’s case rate is relatively low now, but I believe one reason is that the school system took ventilation issues quite seriously.
Framingham schools engaged a consultant to analyze public school buildings ventilation and other air quality issues. And, the School Committee voted to allocate $5 million of federal funds toward HVAC upgrades, School Committee Chair Adam Freudberg told me.
While vaccinations, masks, and testing have received a lot of media coverage, there’s been somewhat less public discussion about another key to reducing Covid-19 transmission: indoor air quality. (For more on this, see Workplaces need fresh air, not foosball tables and coffee bars by Joseph Allen, director of Harvard University’s Healthy Buildings program and an associate professor at the university’s T. H. Chan School of Public Health in The Atlantic. “There is very little outdoor transmission,” he noted on Twitter. “Think about why.”). And it does seem that schools which have prioritized indoor air quality via ventilation and HEPA filtration as well as masks, testing, and vaccination are doing better than those that haven’t.
Case rate now ‘moderate’
The city announced this week that there were 30 known new cases in the last 7 days, which translates to 40.3 cases per 100,000 in the prior week. CDC considers a rate between 10-49 per 100K in a week to be moderate transmission. (Below 10 is low, 50-99 is substantial, and more is high). Unfortunately, there was also some grim data amidst the good news, as the city was notified of another Covid fatality in the past week. 252 city residents are known to have died of Covid-19 since the pandemic began, or roughly 1 out of every 295 residents.
70.2% of city residents are fully vaccinated, while 77.9% have received at least one dose. That’s among all residents, including those too young to be eligible.