A new study looking at coronavirus antibodies and community spread in the Boston area found that nine out of 10 residents have not been exposed to COVID-19.
The city partnered with Massachusetts General Hospital and the Boston Public Health Commission to test about 1,000 asymptomatic residents to evaluate community exposure to COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.
The study found that 9.9% of those tested were positive for antibodies and 2.6% of currently asymptomatic individuals tested positive for COVID-19, according to a news release from Mayor Marty Walsh's office.
According to the study, approximately 1 in 10 residents sampled developed antibodies while 1 in 40 asymptomatic individuals tested positive for COVID-19 and are potentially infectious.
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"We can draw two preliminary conclusions from the results of this study. First, that the actions we took early on in this pandemic made a real difference in slowing the spread and, second, that the majority of our population still have not been exposed to the virus," Walsh said in a statement.
The mayor added that in order to reopen the economy, there must be a "phased-in approach" that includes safety guidelines that are dependent on testing.
Officials from Mass. General echoed that sentiment, saying careful decisions need to be made about reopening, as 90% of Boston's residents have not yet been exposed to COVID-19.
"Making sound decisions about safely reopening requires that we understand how extensively the virus has already spread in our community," said Dr. Peter Slavin, president of Massachusetts General Hospital. "We also know that COVID-19 will be with us for a while. It is vital therefore that we be thoughtful and careful about reopening, and that we continue to take actions — wearing masks, physical distancing, working from home when possible, limiting gatherings. That can prevent another surge of the disease."