COVID

Boston public health officials urge increased caution as COVID cases tick up

Community positivity in the city has climbed to 6.9% after being as low as 2.2% in early March.

David L. Ryan/Globe Staff
Dr. Bisola Ojikutu, executive director of the Boston Public Health Commission. David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

The Boston Public Health Commission is entreating residents to stay vigilant and take precautions after COVID-19 cases increased by 65% in the past two weeks.

“With COVID-19 cases rising, we are urging all Bostonians to take extra precautions to protect yourselves, your family, and our community,” Dr. Bisola Ojikutu, executive director of the Boston Public Health Commission, said in a statement on Thursday.

Anyone who is feeling unwell should get tested for free at one of the city’s COVID-19 testing sites or take an over-the-counter rapid test, she said.

“We are recommending that individuals protect themselves and others by masking indoors, particularly in crowded places,” Ojikutu said. “These precautions are how we protect the progress we’ve made in our community.”

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Three Massachusetts communities — Berkshire, Middlesex, and Suffolk — are currently designated at “medium” in terms of COVID-19 levels, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Community positivity in Boston has climbed to 6.9% after being as low as 2.2% in early March, according to the BPHC.

Local officials are predicting cases could continue to rise, since the amount of COVID-19 particles in local wastewater samples has increased by 109% over a two-week period. New hospitalizations have also slowly risen over the past couple of weeks, according to the public health commission.

Amid higher transmission levels, officials said that using prevention and mitigation strategies reduces the risk of severe illness and hospitalization.

BPHC is urging residents to take steps such as getting tested prior to going to large indoor gatherings or visiting people who are at high risk for severe disease from COVID-19, getting vaccinated and boosted, and wearing masks in indoor public settings.

People should also get tested if they are sick or have been exposed to the virus, the commission said.

The commission is also encouraging everyone age 12 and older who completed their primary vaccination series at least five months ago to obtain a booster shot.

Second boosters are also available for those who are age 50 or older — or anyone 12 or older who has an underlying health condition that compromises their immune system — who received their first booster at least 4 months ago.

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Approximately 73% of Boston residents are fully vaccinated and 53% of those who are fully vaccinated have been boosted, according to the agency.

Free COVID-19 vaccine and booster clinics are open across the city, with both walk-in and by appointment options available.

Despite the national mask mandate on airplanes and mass transit being struck down this week, local public health experts are still recommending masking up in indoor public settings.

BPHC noted that people who are at high risk for severe illness or who live with someone who is at high risk should be especially vigilant.

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