Most of the posts and discussions on EphBlog about the coronavirus and COVID-19 have (understandably) focused on the College.  But Williamstown is more than just Williams, and issues relating to COVID-19 are facing the broader community right now.  I saw this article about testing the staff at Williamstown Commons, a nursing home and rehabilitation facility located just east of the College off of Rt. 2.  The article explains that the entire staff of the facility was tested, and that 5 staff members, who were asymptomatic, tested positive:

With state testing guidelines loosening to acknowledge asymptomatic cases, all staff at Williamstown Commons have now been tested, revealing five so far without symptoms.

Some 73 residents have tested positive, according to Lisa Gaudet, communications vice president for Berkshire Healthcare Systems, which owns the nursing home. Of the 73, 15 have died, 17 have recovered, 35 remain in the nursing home’s COVID-19 unit, and six are at the hospital receiving higher-level care.

Test results for an additional 15 staffers are still pending, Gaudet said, and results for 102 more came back negative.

The results here show the risks of infection which come with dense living conditions, as would be experienced in a nursing home or a residential college setting.  Large numbers of residents at Williamstown Commons are infected (73), and at least 5 staff members are as well.  Its not at all clear to how it will be possible to avoid significant infection rates, particularly amongst students, when the College reopens.  On the plus side, from this study so far 102 staff members did not test positive, and they are likely in fairly close contact with infected persons, though hopefully using protective gear and fairly stringent protocols to avoid infection, protocols which might be difficult for students to follow every day.

This kind of data is interesting as the College considers whether to reopen for the fall semester.

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