Boston's COVID-19 metrics are continuing to decline after a brief surge fueled by the highly-contagious XBB subvariant.
The Boston Public Health Commission said COVID particles in the city's wastewater have decreased by 47% over the past two weeks and are now at an average of 1,014 RNA copies per millileter. Furthermore, seven out of the 11 neighborhoods tested are below the citywide average.
The XBB subvariant accounted for 83% of all viral particles sampled; it currently accounts for 92% of total COVID cases across all of New England, according to the CDC.
New COVID cases per day increased by 1.4% over the past week, which is considered stable, but they declined by 16% over the past two weeks. Boston hospitals reported 179 new COVID-related admissions through Feb. 6, down 8% over the previous seven day period and down 15% from two weeks ago.
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Despite the declining numbers, the Boston Public Health Commission said it plans to continue offering free COVID-19 vaccines at sites throughout the city at least through the end of 2023. The Biden administration recently announced its plans to end the national public health emergency for COVID-19 on May 11, which ends federal funding for state and local COVID response.
“Offering free COVID-19 vaccines has been an indispensable part of our pandemic response in Boston and will become even more important as the national public health emergency ends,” Dr. Bisola Ojikutu, executive director of the Boston Public Health Commission and Commissioner of Public Health, said in a statement. “Equity-focused, public health polices like this are why we have been able to significantly reduce pandemic related racial and ethnic health disparities in Boston.”
To find a vaccination or testing site in Boston, go to boston.gov/covid19-vaccine.
Suffolk County and most of eastern and central Massachusetts remain at medium risk for community transmission of COVID, according to the CDC. Berkshire, Hampden and Hampshire counties in western Massachusetts are in the lowest risk category.
Residents in areas with medium risk are encouraged to wear a mask if they have symptoms, a positive test or exposure to someone with COVID-19. Anyone at high risk for severe illness should also consider wearing a mask indoors in public and taking additional precautions, the CDC says.