COVID Levels More Than Double Around Boston After Thanksgiving

The rising COVID wastewater levels come the week after the Thanksgiving holiday, when many people gathered with families

A graph showing COVID levels detected in Boston-area wastewater through Dec. 2, 2022.
Massachusetts Water Resources Authority

More COVID is being detected in the Boston area's sewer system than any time in over a month, and levels are as high as they've been since last winter's omicron surge, new data shows.

COVID-19 data collected from the region's wastewater — a metric officials track to get a sense of how much the virus is spreading — shows levels are up 135% in the southern part of the Greater Boston area and 275% in the northern part of the region in the last month.

The data from the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority is updated several times a week. COVID levels were actually lower in November than they had been in previous months; the last time levels were as high as they are at the start of December was in late October.

In Boston itself, wastewater COVID levels have effectively doubled, Commissioner of Public Health Dr. Bisola Ojikutu said Friday.

The commission noted that city residents' rate of getting booster shots has lagged, even as COVID metrics are rising.

"Let's prioritize staying healthy this holiday season. In addition to masking indoors, one of the easiest and most effective ways to do that is by getting a COVID-19 booster and an annual flu shot," Ojikutu said in a statement.

We got an up-close explanation of how one Massachusetts company, Biobot Analytics, has been analyzing wastewater to monitor for coronavirus spikes in the Boston area and around the country.

The rise in COVID wastewater levels comes in the week after the Thanksgiving holiday, when many people gathered with families. The days after last Thanksgiving saw a similar COVID surge, though the current uptick has yet to approach anywhere close to last winter's levels.

Earlier this week on NBC10 Boston's weekly "COVID Q&A" series, Boston Medical Center's Dr. Sabrina Assoumou explained the best ways to avoid getting sick over the holidays, with RSV and the flu also going around.

"Get your updated booster. If you haven't gotten vaccinated yet for COVID, get vaccinated. Get your flu vaccine, because that's also a way that you can protect yourself," Assoumou said.

She also noted that masks remain useful: "If you're in a location where cases are high, it is a good idea to wear a mask indoors in public settings."

Top Boston doctors weigh in on new variants, a potential post-Thanksgiving surge and ways to reduce risk over the holidays during NBC10 Boston’s weekly “COVID Q&A” series.
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