Infection Rates See Slight Uptick in the Downtown Areas, Cases Steady

With testing ramping up in the South End, Fenway and Downtown/Back Bay/Beacon Hill areas, COVID-19 cases are growing faster and infection rates have seen a slight uptick over the past week – particularly in the Downtown/Back Bay/Beacon Hill areas.

The Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) released its neighborhood data on Friday, with data current as of 1:18 p.m. on May 21.

In the latest data, there were several new cases reported in the Downtown/Back Bay/Beacon Hill area – reporting 87 new cases in the week and an infection rate that went from 63.2 per 10,000 to 77.9 per 10,000. The same was true of the Fenway, but there were only 10 new cases reported since last week, but an infection rate that went up to 47.9 per 10,000. That was a modest increase compared to Downtown/Back Bay/Beacon Hill where there is a noticeable uptick.

The South End’s numbers, as has been the case for months in the data, is tied to the testing of the homeless population in the shelters, hospitals and Pine Street Inn – all in the South End. This week, the South End was reported to have 80 new cases and an infection rate of 225.7 per 10,000.

These statistics are markedly different for the areas than in the previous week when nothing notable really changed.

When it came to testing, more residents were being tested in every neighborhood. The South End saw 3,116 people tested, up by almost 300 from last week. The Downtown area rose in testing to 2,816 people from 2,442 last week – a difference of 374 people.

The Fenway also saw an increase from 1,448 people last week to 1,719 people in the current data. All of that is a noticeable difference for neighborhoods that have not shown large concentrations of infection.

The neighborhood with the most people tested was South Dorchester, with 6,582 people tested, while East Boston had 4,137 people tested.

The numbers of positive tests are decreasing, an important indicator as testing increases. In the South End, the positive percentage was 25.5 percent, with 13.6 percent in the Downtown/Back Bay/Beacon Hill areas – which was the lowest percentage in the city. Fenway had a positive percentage rate of 15.6 percent.

Positive test percentages have lowered all over the city, with East Boston still having the highest percentage at 34.5 percent positive out of 4,137 tests.

The most cases are still in South Dorchester with 1,890 positive cases, but the highest infection rate at 298 per 10,000 in Hyde Park.

•One new piece of information this week – as of May 26 – was the City began keeping track of deaths in long-term care facilities, or nursing homes.

There had been 622 deaths in Boston from COVID-19 complications and 296 had been in long-term care facilities – at around 47.5 percent of all deaths.

That was new information and shone a light upon where the vast amount of deaths and sickness are occurring – which is in long-term care facilities and in communities/neighborhoods with several of those facilities, such as Hyde Park.

•The divide between men and women remained in the current numbers, with women being more prone to be infected than men – which is an outlier amongst the world trends.

This week, 51 percent of all cases were in women, while 47.5 percent were in men. That was the same as the previous week, but up since the pandemic began.

•The vast majority of cases remains in the older population, with one in three COVID-19 positive persons age 60 or above.

The largest age group with positive cases was age 50-59 with 17.5 percent of all cases. The highest infection rate, as has been the case for some time, is in the 80-plus population, which is at 599 per 10,000. That substantially higher than the next closest age group, 70-79, which is at 328 per 10,000. This trend has been the case for more than a month.

•Racial data continues to show Black/African Americans leading in the numbers of cases for the data available (18.4 percent of the data is missing or incomplete for race). They accounted for 31.3 percent of overall cases.

Yet, at the same time, the group most closely watched is the Latino population, which has been climbing steadily over the last three weeks. They have decreased to 20 percent of all cases after jumping to 24 percent last week. Still, it is much higher than initially in Boston.

White residents account for 20.5 percent of all cases, but 44 percent of all deaths. •As of May 26, there were 12,521 confirmed cases, with 6,019 recovered and out of isolation. That’s a higher recovery rate – nearly 50 percent – than many communities surrounding Boston

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