Boston Issues New COVID Warning, Urges Return to Indoor Mask Wearing

New infections are driving up the city's positivity rate, which stands at just over 10%

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COVID cases are once again creeping back up in Boston. New data released Friday from the Boston Public Health Commission shows cases are rising.

Over past seven days, new COVID cases have increased by 38.9%. These new infections are driving up the city's positivity rate, which stands at just over 10%. There's also been about 151 people in the hospital with COVID each day over the past seven days.



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These numbers are causing Boston health officials to issue a new warning about COVID.

Their message is one of caution. They're once again urging people to start wearing masks in crowded indoor spaces and are telling people to gather outside and choose outdoor events if possible. An example of an indoor crowded space is public transportation.

The BA.5 subvariant makes up 60% of New England's COVID-19 infections.

Right now, the COVID positivity rate in Massachusetts is more than double the threshold of concern -- it's 10.3%.

The threshold for when people should be taking precautions is 5%, and the goal is 4% or lower.

Daily hospitalizations and the amount of coronavirus in local wastewater have also shot up. The reason, experts believe, is because of the highly-contagious and now dominant BA.5 omicron subvariant, as well as people gathering and traveling over the 4th of July weekend.

Despite the recommendation by health leaders to wear masks indoors, many residents and visitors of Boston are opting out on wearing masks. And there isn't only one reason why.

“Cases are increasing, as are hospitalizations. We are following our citywide trends closely, and we suggest that everyone follow recommended precautions to reduce risk,” Dr. Bisola Ojikutu, executive director of the Boston Public Health Commission, said in a statement posted to the city's website. “Based on current trends, it is essential that people protect themselves and others by wearing masks within indoor crowded settings, testing, isolating if they’re sick, and staying up to date with their vaccinations, which will reduce the risk of severe illness from COVID-19."

Even with all of this, health experts say there is some good news here -- there have still been very few cases of severe illness.

The Boston Public Health Commission recommends the following strategies to prevent COVID transmission:

  • Test for COVID before and after attending large gatherings, especially if you know you will be around high-risk individuals, such as seniors, those who are immunocompromised, and those who are unvaccinated.
  • Wear masks indoors, especially in crowded indoor settings like public transportation.
  • Stay home and isolate if you are sick or test positive for COVID. If you test positive, be sure to contact a health care provider about oral antivirals or monoclonal antibody therapy.
  • The Massachusetts Department of Public Health is offering free telehealth services for Paxlovid, and oral antiviral that has been proven to reduce the risk of hospitalization and death from COVID significantly.
  • Stay up to date on your COVID-19 vaccinations, which are now recommended for everyone 6 months and older.
  • Gather outside and choose outdoor activities as often as possible.
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