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Indoor Dining, 50% Offices as Step 2 of Phase II Begins Monday; Recent Protests Show Low Infection Rate [COVID-19 Weekly Update]

Scopa on Hanover St.

Governor Charlie Baker announced that restaurants can begin opening their indoor dining rooms on Monday, June 22nd as Massachusetts enters Step 2 in Phase II of the state’s reopening plan. Offices can also increase their capacity to 50% and retail dressing rooms can be visited by appointment. Close-contact personal services such as nail salons and personal training (with restrictions) can reopen too. More information about Boston’s reopening plan can be found here.

Seven new COVID-19 cases this week were reported in the Downtown, North End, Beacon Hill, and Back Bay neighborhoods, according to the Boston Public Health Commission’s weekly report through June 18th. That represents the third week in a row where the number of new cases in the downtown area was in the single digits. The total number of cases for the downtown neighborhoods stands at 470, a rate of 84.3 per 10,000 residents.

Citywide, there were 127 new cases reported this week with 13,270 total cases, according to Boston’s COVID-19 case tracking dashboardThat shows about a 39.8% decrease in new cases compared to last week where there were 211 new cases reported. The total number of deaths stand at 694 with 17 new deaths this week. In the City, approximately 67% of coronavirus patients have recovered.

Boston’s Emergency Departments (ED) reported that 1.8% of all ED visits were for COVID-19-like illness (CLI). This is unchanged from the prior week.

Following large protests and other demonstrations across Boston, the City set up pop-up testing sites in Roxbury and invited those who had participated in these gatherings to get free testing. Approximately 1,300 people were tested at this site, with only 1% of those testing positive.

On Thursday, June 18th, Mayor Marty Walsh stated that Boston reached an “important benchmark” with the overall positive test rate falling below 20% for the first time to 19.6%.

“That number has been one of our key targets for continuing the safe reopening,” Mayor Walsh stated during a daily press conference on Thursday afternoon.

As the weather begins to grow warmer, many people may be tempted to forego face coverings and relax their social distancing. However, officials remind residents that it remains imperative to curtail the spread of the virus by taking precautions, including wearing face coverings and physical distancing, despite the signs of decline in infection rates, deaths, and hospitalizations.

“What we’re seeing in other parts of the country is concerning and it’s proof, if you don’t take this virus seriously enough, we can and will get spikes,” Mayor Walsh stated.

Massachusetts currently has 106,650 total positive and presumptive cases according to the most recent data with 102,005 being confirmed positive cases and 4,645 being probable cases. There were 1,591 new COVID-19 cases reported this week with 397 of those being probable cases. There have been 7,800 total deaths with 262 new deaths.