The COVID-19 surge across Boston is continuing and Mayor Martin Walsh said the city is focusing efforts on neighborhoods that have a high volume of community spread ahead of the Christmas holiday.
According to the latest data released by the Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) last Friday, 34,688 North End, Beacon Hill, Back Bay, West End and Downtown residents were tested for COVID-19 and the data shows that 9 percent of those tested were COVID positive. This was a 52.5 percent increase from the 5.9 percent testing positive the week of Thanksgiving. The citywide positive test increased 45 percent last week and went from 11.9 percent of Boston residents testing positive for the virus to 17.3 percent.
Overall since the pandemic began 3.8 percent of North End, Beacon Hill, Back Bay, West End and Downtown residents were found to be COVID positive.
On Monday, Mayor Walsh and Gov. Charlie Baker announced new state-wide restrictions for the city and state. In an effort to reduce the further spread of COVID and its impact on Boston’s health care system and essential services, Walsh said starting Wednesday Boston will return back to a modified Phase Two, Step Two of the Reopening Massachusetts plan. The
“Unfortunately, we are at the point where we need to take stronger action to control COVID-19 in Boston, and urgently, to ensure our health care workers have the capacity to care for everyone in need,” said Walsh. “We are hopeful that by reducing opportunities for transmission throughout the region, we will reduce the spread of this deadly virus and maintain our ability to keep critical services open. We continue to urge everyone to take personal responsibility and follow the public health guidelines while visiting any public space or business, and employers to allow their employees to work from home as much as possible. Together, we will be able to get this virus under control, save lives, and ultimately come back stronger.”
Returning to a modified Phase Two, Step Two requires the closure of certain businesses that were allowed to open during the Phase Three reopening plan. Gatherings in private and public settings are required to have no more than 10 people for indoor settings and 25 people for outdoor settings.
The following industries in the City of Boston are required to close starting Wednesday, December 16 for at least three weeks:
• Indoor fitness centers and health clubs, including gyms using alternative spaces. One-on-one personal training sessions are allowed.
• Movie theaters
• Indoor recreational and athletic facilities (except for youth 18 and under)
• This does not apply to collegiate or professional sports. Collegiate sports teams in the City of Boston may continue to use indoor recreational facilities and fitness centers.
• Indoor pools may remain open for all ages under pre-registration format structure limited to one person per swim lane.
• Indoor recreational venues with potential for low-contact (batting cases, driving ranges, bowling alleys, rock-climbing)
• Sightseeing and other organized tours (bus tours, duck tours, harbor cruises, whale watching)
• Indoor historical spaces & sites
• Indoor event spaces (meeting rooms, ballrooms, private party rooms, social clubs)
• Private social clubs may continue to operate, if they serve food, consistent with restaurant guidance.
• Indoor and outdoor gaming arcades associated with gaming devices
• The Mayor said bars and restaurants may remain open with bar seating restrictions and a strictly enforced 90-minute seating limit.
The infection rate in the North End and surrounding neighborhoods increased 11.8 percent in one week according to the latest city statistics.
The BPHC data released last Friday showed North End, Beacon Hill, Back Bay, West End and Downtown had an infection rate of 245.5 cases per 10,000 residents, up from 219.4 cases per 10,000 residents.
One hundred forty-five additional residents became infected with the virus last week and the total number of cases in the area increased from 1,223 cases to 1,368 cases as of last Friday.
The statistics released by the BPHC as part of its weekly COVID19 report breaks down the number of cases and infection rates in each neighborhood. It also breaks down the number of cases by age, gender and race.
Citywide positive cases of coronavirus increased 11 percent percent last week and went from 30,342 cases to 33,735 in a week. Twenty-seven more Boston residents died from the virus and there are now 960 total deaths in the city from COVID.