Is Surging COVID a Real Worry? Why Mass. Doctors Are Concerned, Not Alarmed

"It's definitely something we've been watching really closely," said a doctor whose hospital just recently celebrated zero COVID patients, only for the number to tick up again

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As Massachusetts starts to see a small uptick in COVID infections and cases start to spike in other parts of the United States, many are wondering if there is reason to be concerned.

NBC10 Boston asked several public health experts to weigh in on whether or not residents should start taking precautions.

What's the COVID Situation in Mass.?

The average number of new daily infections has doubled over the last three weeks in Massachusetts. Hospitalizations have also gone up slightly.

A total of 269 cases were reported over the entire July 4 weekend -- the same number that was reported in one day Friday.

Gov. Charlie Baker blames this pattern on July 4 events, but with cases jumping much higher in states like California and Arkansas, some are starting to worry.

In a White House briefing on Thursday, U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy shared his new advisory on the dangers of health misinformation during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"It's definitely something we've been watching really closely," said Dr. Kimi Koboyashi, the chief quality officer at UMass Memorial.

Kobayashi is seeing the uptick up close. A few weeks ago, the hospital celebrated the fact that it had zero COVID patients, but the number has started to rise again.

New COVID Restrictions Nationwide

He said it is a good idea to mask up in crowded places even though it is not currently mandated in Massachusetts. Los Angeles County is reimposing its mask mandate this weekend after seeing a new wave of infections.

"I don't think we can let our guard down especially as we head into the colder months and people can't socially distance outside. We've seen that pattern before with this virus," Koboyashi said.

Summer travel is also a concern for some. Chicago recently added two states, Missouri and Arkansas, to its travel advisory list due to their positivity rates.

The highly contagious delta variant is quickly spreading across the country, making up more than half of new COVID-19 cases.

"It causes a little bit of concern, but I'm certainly not alarmed yet," said Dr. Carole Allen, the president of the Massachusetts Medical Society.

What to Do About COVID Spikes

Allen recommends keeping a close eye on your vacation destination to see if it is becoming a COVID hotspot. If cases start to spike, you might want to reconsider.

"A lot of it depends on whether you've been vaccinated, whether you're going to be in a place that has big crowds or if you're just going to be out in the countryside. You want to look at what the risks are for you and your family," Allen said.

While Massachusetts already has a fairly high vaccination rate of 68 percent, both public health experts said the best way to keep cases down is to encourage more people to roll their sleeves up. A mobile clinic operated by the North Shore Physicians Group was in Salem Friday encouraging people to get the shot.

"The numbers are slowly creeping back up, which we don't like to see, but there's a lot of us on the ground trying to do the work to get vaccines in arms," said Bailey Bollen, the community health outreach lead for the clinic.

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