The Downtown, North End, Beacon Hill, and Back Bay neighborhoods experienced a 50% increase in new cases this week with sixteen new cases reported by the Boston Public Health Commission’s weekly report through August 6th. The total number of cases for the downtown neighborhoods stand at 535, a rate of 96 per 10,000 residents. Visits to the Emergency Department for COVID-19-like-illness rose from 1.9% to 2.4%.
The City of Boston currently has 14,446 reported cases with 308 new cases this week according to Boston’s COVID-19 tracking dashboard. There was an increase of nearly 59% in new reported cases than last week where there were 194 new cases. The City reported eleven new deaths with the total number of deaths standing at 741.
Following an apparent rise in the Commonwealth’s positive test rate percentage, Governor Baker announced during his Friday press conference that Step 2 of Phase III in the state’s reopening plan has been postponed “indefinitely.” This means that theaters and performance venues will be unable to host indoor shows; however, drive-in movie theaters and other outdoor performance venues can remain open.
Bars and nightclubs, which are under Phase IV, are still not allowed to reopen.
Governor Baker clarified that state guidelines require that alcoholic beverages served on-site must be accompanied by food prepared on-site, stating that “bars masquerading as restaurants also need to be closed.”
“The notable decline of COVID in Massachusetts, especially in comparison to many other states, has caused some residents to feel a bit too relaxed about the seriousness of this virus,” warned Governor Baker, pointing to several case clusters that have been traced to large parties across the Commonwealth.
Recently, a wedding was held in the town of Gardner where approximately 300 people attended. Governor Baker stated that the incident was being investigated and would likely result in fines.
“These parties are too big, too crowded, and people are simply not being responsible about face coverings, social distancing, or any of the major metrics that we’ve put in place to help people manage the spread of this virus,” said Governor Baker on Friday afternoon.
Governor Baker announced he would be signing an executive order that reduced the limit for outdoor gathering from 100 to 50; which includes both public and private properties. The indoor guidance remains at 25 people.
In response to rising cases, state officials announced a new set of initiatives to tackle enforcement and community spread in high-risk areas.
Beginning on Wednesday, August 12th, the state will begin reporting additional town by town data to show the spread of the coronavirus at the community level. It will report on each community’s percentage of positive cases, and trends for each city and town. The state will rate each community’s risk level and target those who are deemed at higher-risk for additional resources including access to federal funding if they’re deemed eligible.
Governor Baker also announced the COVID Enforcement and Intervention Team; a multi-agency coalition working alongside state and local police to enforce COVID-19 regulations. He stated that police officials will be allowed to not only enforce orders, but also fine event hosts who violate them.
In an effort to “ramp up enforcement,” businesses will be subjected to inspections for a variety of agencies to ensure guidelines are being followed. Those who do not comply to public safety protocols could face fines, revocation of their liquor license, or other consequences.
Massachusetts currently has 111,853 total confirmed positive cases and 8,438 presumptive cases according to the most recent data. There were 2,679 new COVID-19 cases reported this week with 613 of those being probable cases. There have been 8,709 total deaths with 100 new deaths among confirmed and presumptive cases.