Rate of infection in those 80+ jumps disproportionately
The South End emerged as a major ‘hot spot’ for COVID-19 infections in the latest neighborhood statistics released by the Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) on Friday evening.
The statistics were taken as of Thursday, April 9, at 4:12 p.m.
The infection rate grew quickly over the past week in the South End, jumping to 78.9 per 10,000 residents, which was leaps and bounds higher than the next closest neighborhood of Hyde Park, which had an infection rate of 66.6 per 10,000. For the South End, it amounted to 282 confirmed cases, which was a major jump from one week ago when the neighborhood had a rate of 19.6 per 10,000 and 70 confirmed cases.
It was also far greater than abutting neighborhoods like the Back Bay/Beacon Hill/Downtown areas, which had an infection rate of 23.2 per 10,000 and 129 cases. In the Fenway, the rate of infection was 12.4 per 10,000 and 68 confirmed cases.
The South End rates were similar to some of the highest rates in the state, with it being just above the numbers for Lawrence – which had the second highest estimated rate in the state at 75 per 10,000. Chelsea was the hardest hit community with an estimated 106 cases per 10,000 people, according to hospital officials from Mass General and Beth Israel.
The jump in cases for the South End took many by surprise as most there seemed to be following social distance carefully and many had isolated inside for several weeks. That said, there had been great concern about 10 to 12 days ago when warmer weather had brought many out to walk their dogs in large groups, jog together and play basketball. There’s no way to confirm that this had any effect on the new data, but it was noted by City leaders at that time.
There has also been a spike in the numbers of homeless individuals testing positive for COVID-19 in the shelters and on the Mass/Cass corridor. It was reported Thursday that 201 out of 704 homeless persons tested positive in recent weeks. That, obviously, could also have a major bearing on the data for the South End as well, but not all of those positive tests were attributed to the South End.
East Boston had been one of the early leaders as COVID-19 infections grew, but since then it has lessened with a rate of 50.7 per 10,000 and 238 cases.
In terms of the most cases, South Dorchester – one of the City’s largest neighborhoods by population – still had the most confirmed cases with 444.
Overall, the citywide infection rate was 41.9 per 10,000 with a total of 2,848 confirmed cases of COVID-19. There had been 35 deaths from COVID-19 in Boston and 339 people had recovered.
In another reversal of the trends, older adults above age 80 really began to show a much greater infection rate, climbing to 107.4 per 10,000 resident. It was a startling jump from one week ago when those 80 and over had a rate of 22.9 per 10,000.
There is a low percentage of Boston residents under 20 who have tested positive, and a low (26.2 per 10,000) infection rate among those 20-29. However, the numbers begin to climb for those reaching age 30, and then seem to level off for those ages 40-79 – all having rates between 60-76 per 10,000 people.
Nearly 30 percent of all COVID-19 cases were in persons age 60 and above, and rates are seen as increasing substantially with age – according to the BPHC.