Boston COVID wastewater data shows that cases continue to climb as Massachusetts health officials report a jump over the weekend.
COVID wastewater data
There has been an uptick in COVID-19 levels found in wastewater tested by the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority's tracking system. The levels are four times higher than they were in early March for both the north and south of Boston.
Massachusetts COVID cases
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The Massachusetts Department of Public Health is also reporting a 38% increase in COVID cases from the weekend when compared with last weekend. State health officials said Monday that 4,000 new COVID-19 cases were reported between Friday and Sunday.
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Massachusetts' COVID metrics have declined since the omicron surge, but case counts are rising once again. People ages 20 to 29 saw the biggest increase in COVID cases over the last two weeks. That case increase thus far has not corresponded with any dramatic increase in deaths.
Boston COVID cases
Boston Mayor Michelle Wu addressed the rising cases in her city at a press conference discussing the Boston Marathon, an event expected to draw thousands upon thousands of people to the city this weekend.
She said community transmission is currently at 5.4%, above the threshold the city set to consider renewed COVID precautions. Wu said they are carefully monitoring case counts and wastewater data. However, she noted metrics have been fluctuating up and down and public health officials are monitoring to ensure there is not a consistently upward trend.
When asked if she was planning to reinstate the indoor mask mandate, the mayor said not yet.
“We are not there yet in terms of the hospitalization numbers and the impact we’re seeing in the community," Wu said Tuesday.
Wu encouraged those attending any Marathon Monday-related events to get tested and consider preventative measures like wearing masks indoors. If you feel sick, stay home.
Should we be concerned?
Medical experts have said that a similar trend is being seen across the country, but that the numbers remain nowhere near where they were during the peak of the omicron surge. Newly appointed White House COVID Coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha noted that a similar trend was seen in Europe a few weeks ago and that it's not yet a cause for concern.
“I am not overly concerned right now," Jha said. "We saw this in Europe a few weeks ago but the good news is we’re coming off of some very low infection numbers.”
Other experts note that there are many tools available to use as added preventative measures, including masks.
“I think the important thing to always remember is that the virus is not done with us," Dr. Taison Bell of Critical Care UVA Health said. "So when waves come and surges happen and we still have people that are vulnerable, we still have to be ready to go with our protective measures and therapeutics to make sure we are trying to protect as many people as possible.”
Will Massachusetts bring back a mask mandate?
Gov. Charlie Baker didn't seem to interested in revisiting the mask mandate discussion on Tuesday, a day after Philadelphia announced it would be bringing back its indoor mask mandate effective April 18 due to rising cases.
"Well, the first thing I would say we should all remember is in Massachusetts, an extraordinarily high percentage of the population is vaccinated and boosted, and there's no question at this point if you're vaccinated and boosted, the likelihood of getting severely ill or hospitalized as a result of COVID is dramatically reduced," he said when asked if the state might consider an indoor mask mandate here.
Baker also stressed that there are now oral medications that have bee proven to be "enormously effective" for those who do get COVID.
"My message on COVID is if you're vaccinated, get boosted, and if you're not vaccinated, get vaccinated. I'm grateful so many people have."
COVID Question and Answer series
A panel of Boston-based doctors talking about everything related to the COVID-19 pandemic live on NBC10 Boston's Facebook page every Tuesday at 10:30 a.m.