WESTFIELD, NJ — Eight more Westfield residents have tested positive for coronavirus in the past three days, bringing the official number of town cases to 422, the mayor said.

The town is reporting the new figure even though the Westfield Regional Health Department is actually investigating 28 Westfield cases when rapid tests are included in the count, Mayor Shelley Brindle said Friday evening.

“There continues to be a disparity between the official case count for the town and the information received by the Health Department directly from health care providers and testing centers, and that is because the state does not count rapid COVID tests in their official numbers yet,” Brindle said.

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The mayor's report of eight new cases came on the same day the community learned that Westfield High School students would not be returning for in-person instruction until at least Nov. 9, after a sixth student at the school tested positive for the virus. Extracurricular activities, including athletics, are also canceled during that time, officials said.

Westfield learned of three new cases added to the official count by the state on Wednesday, two on Thursday and three Friday, Brindle said.

From Oct. 16 – 22, the town saw 16 cases of the virus reported, the mayor said. The people with the virus are ages 9, 15, 17, 18 (2 cases), 19, 20, 21, 35, 41 (2 cases), 47, 53, 58, 72, and 78, Brindle said.

The contact tracing breakdown of those official cases, she said, is as follows:

  • Six caught the virus from household contacts.
  • Three had no known exposure.
  • Three had known exposure.
  • Two were unable to be reached.
  • One was associated with a college.
  • One remains under investigation.

“Only two of the six cases related to the Westfield High School closure are in our official count, even though they are identified through rapid testing via health care providers,” Brindle said.

Brindle told the public to presume that COVID-19 numbers are higher than what the municipality can formally report.

“We should assume the numbers are higher in actuality than we are able to officially report, and that disparity will continue to grow as rapid testing becomes more readily available,” Brindle said in her update. “As we continue to provide any information we receive, we are also exploring the best way forward to report data in a way that is most helpful to the community.”

Union County reported 99 new coronavirus cases on Friday, bringing the county’s count of cases to 19,252, according to the state Health Department’s COVID-19 dashboard. Statewide, there were 225,430 COVID-19 cases, according to the DOH.

The town did not report any additional fatalities on Friday.

Email Matt Kadosh at mkadosh@tapinto.net | Twitter: @MattKadosh