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“We are at another critical point,” Walsh Reiterates Importance of Testing, Staying Home [COVID-19 Update]

There were 97 new COVID-19 cases this week in the Downtown, North End, Beacon Hill, and Back Bay neighborhoods, according to the Boston Public Health Commission’s weekly report through November 12th. This number has been steadily increasing since mid-September where new cases were lingering around the twenties. Last week, there were 46 new cases for the area.

Visits to the Emergency Department for COVID-19-like-illness have nearly tripled from late September to 5.1% this week. Hospitalizations have doubled from the numbers seen in September to 687 individuals currently hospitalized with COVID-19 across Massachusetts. Boston’s non-ICU hospital capacity is currently at 79% and ICU hospital capacity is at 57%.

The City of Boston has been experiencing a steady rise in COVID-19 cases since Labor Day, indicating a second surge that was predicted by many health experts. On Thursday, November 12th, Boston experienced one of the highest daily confirmed case number since June with 355 new cases. The Commonwealth also hit a tragic milestone on Thursday by surpassing 10,000 deaths attributed to the coronavirus.

The City of Boston reported 23,433 total cases with 1,586 new cases this week, according to Boston’s COVID-19 tracking dashboardThe City reported seven new deaths this week with the total number of deaths standing at 884. Although the Commonwealth appears to be experiencing a second surge, the amount of deaths have not reached the numbers the state experienced during the first surge in the spring.

“We’re seeing a pretty significant increase in daily cases,” stated Mayor Marty Walsh during a press conference on Thursday afternoon.

Mayor Walsh urged Boston residents to participate in the City’s COVID-19 testing pledge by getting tested ahead of the upcoming Thanksgiving holidays.

“We are at another critical point,” said Mayor Walsh, warning that a second shutdown would be “far worse.”

According to the Department of Public Health’s weekly report, coronavirus case clusters were occurring largely within households, indicating that private gatherings with familiar individuals were driving up case counts. The second highest number of case clusters were attributed to long-term care facilities, but their numbers were significantly less with under 150 confirmed cases. In contrast, colleges, schools, and restaurants seemed to be faring better than anticipated with far fewer case clusters traced back to these locations.

The North End Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center is in progress of meeting testing thresholds determined by the state’s surveillance testing program. Currently, there are ten residents and one staff member who have tested positive at the facility.

During a 14-day period, the highest number of cases were attributed to those between the ages of 20-29. However, the hospitalization rate over a 14-day period for this age group was one of the lowest. In contrast, those over the age of 80 had the lowest number of cases but the highest number of hospitalizations over a 14-day period.

A study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) discovered that those between the ages of 18-24 were becoming infected and transmitting the virus to other age groups across several hotspot counties in the country. The study stated that “there is an urgent need to address transmission among young adult populations, especially given recent increases in COVID-19 incidences among young adults.”

In Massachusetts, the number of daily cases has continued to rise with this week seeing an average of 2,500 new daily cases on three consecutive days—2,495 cases on Wednesday, 2,482 cases on Thursday, and 2,674 on Friday. This is a sharp increase from recent weeks where the average weekly number of cases was around 2,600 from September 18th, 2020 to October 16th, 2020.

According to the wastewater COVID-19 tracking data from the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority, a pilot program that tests for indicators of COVID-19 at the Deer Island Treatment Plant (DITP) saw an increase in coronavirus infections that has been rising since the start of November.

In response to the growing number of cases, Governor Charlie Baker issued new COVID-19 guidelines in an attempt to curb Coronavirus cases in Massachusetts. Governor Baker’s new guidelines advise individuals to stay at home between the hours of 10pm-5am, wear face coverings in all public spaces regardless of the ability to socially distance, and ordered certain businesses to close at 9:30pm.

During a press conference on Friday afternoon, Governor Baker pointed to the role of every individual as it relates to the state’s growing number of cases, stating that “the innocent acts of small gatherings is where COVID is finding its opportunity to spread.”

“There’s a growing base of evidence across the country that a big part of what’s been driving an increase in cases and hospitalizations is, in many respects, what I’d call the individual acts of many people engaged in familiar activity on a casual basis with people they’re familiar with,” said Governor Baker.

Governor Baker announced on Friday afternoon that the Commonwealth would be reopening the field hospital at the DCU Center in Worcester by December in preparation for more COVID-19 hospitalizations. The hospital will provide 240 beds and will be operated by UMass Memorial Medical Center.

Massachusetts has 177,627 confirmed COVID-19 cases with 14,891 new cases this week according to the state’s COVID-19 daily report. There were 158 new deaths this week with the total number of deaths standing at 10,038. The state’s seven-day positive test rate has tripled since late September to 3.1%.