‘No Reason for Panic' as COVID Cases Continue to Rise in Mass.

An increase in COVID-19 cases has followed school vacation week in Massachusetts, but so far, severity of illnesses has been comparatively low

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Shortly after the return from school vacation week, COVID-19 numbers are on the rise in Massachusetts.

"I think that we are all concerned," said Dr. Bisola Ojikutu, executive director for the Boston Public Health Commission. "There is no reason for panic, however, we are concerned and we are following this data very closely."

Community test positivity rate in Boston -- which excludes colleges -- is now over 10%, as of last Thursday, and continued climbing on Friday and Saturday.

Ojikutu says a number of factors could be at play here, including all the recent travel surrounding school vacation week, the fact this variant remains highly contagious, and current mask rules being more lax than previous rules.

"It is really lower than the winter omicron peak in January, and in general, we are noting that severity of illness is also lower, so this is good news," Ojikutu said. "But we do have a very high level of cases."

In Arlington, the superintendent sent a letter to parents in the school community over the weekend strongly recommending students and staff wear masks.

Dr. Elizabeth Homan said the district had 159 COVID cases last week, the most since the omicron surge.

Cambridge schools recently stressed the importance of masks in schools.

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu says she is watching the numbers closely.

"We are tired, I know, of this virus, and want to be moving on, but the reality is that cases are still in our community. I think everybody knows someone right now that has recently tested positive," Wu said. "We are monitoring those numbers very carefully, have that wastewater data that's really important, and making sure that we can be responsive."

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