South End Cases Remain High While Downtown-Area Stay Below Average

The numbers of cases and the infection rates in the South End continue to remain high based on increased testing with the homeless population, but overall the downtown neighborhoods have remained below the city average in cases and infection rates.

According to neighborhood data released on Friday, as of 2:43 p.m. on April 16, the South End had the second highest infection rate at 104 per 10,000 in the city, which amounted to 372 confirmed cases. That was buoyed by the testing of the homeless and Mass/Cass population in the South End, with those cases being assigned to addresses at Boston Medical Center and Pine Street Inn. Based on those numbers and those of the rest of the neighborhood, it made it a hot spot in the city – only behind Hyde Park which had 413 cases and a rate of 120.7 per 10,000.

Elsewhere, the Downtown/Back Bay/Beacon Hill was quite low with 33.2 per 10,000 (185 cases) and Fenway at 16.6 per 10,000 (91 cases).

There has been extensive testing in the South End, with 1,342 persons tested and a positive rate of 29.4 percent. The Downtown/Back Bay/Beacon Hill neighborhood has 1,210 people tested and a positive rate of 17.7 percent. Fenway had 556 people tested and a 17.3 percent positive rate.

The highest positive rates were in Mattapan, with 48.2 percent out of 645 testing positive, and East Boston, with 47.2 percent out of 907 testing positive. There were 687 tests on Boston residents that were not assigned to a neighborhood. The average positive testing rate citywide was 33.5 percent.

The downtown rates were a welcome sign to most as people continued to social distance and wear masks in public. Many have been able to transition to working from home, and fewer of those living in the neighborhoods are essential workers who have to report to a job or take public transit – two major factors in communities where cases tend to spike.

The hot spots in the City were Hyde Park, the South End, Mattapan and East Boston. The South End is explained through the extensive testing of homeless and drug-dependent in that neighborhood, whose positive tests are attributed to Boston Medical Center or Pine Street Inn. However, those in Hyde Park (120.7 per 10,000), Mattapan (100.7 per 10,000) and East Boston (87.4 per 10,000) were attributed to the fact that many essential workers live in those neighborhoods, are low-income, communities of color and are required to report to work – largely taking public transit.

Citywide, as of April 21, there were 6,010 confirmed cases, with 1,142 having recovered and 196 resident having died.

The most recent neighborhood numbers were different in that it broke out confirmed cases and deaths by race, exposing a huge contrast between communities of color and white and Asian communities. The difference was particularly noticeable in confirmed cases amongst African Americans and blacks. The numbers were only citywide, not by neighborhood, for race, and were a bit flawed because 30 percent of the confirmed cases in Boston had an unknown race.

That said the Black/African American confirmed case rate was 41 percent of the total cases, while Whites made up 27 percent and Latinos 17 percent. Asian residents accounted for just 3 percent, and Other was at 10 percent. The 41 percent for Black/African Americans far outpaced their actual percentage of the population.

For deaths, though, the numbers were a little more balanced, though still 20 percent of deaths in Boston had no known race.

Whites made up 41 percent (65) of the deaths in Boston, while Black/African Americans made up 31 percent (49). Latino residents had 12 percent of the deaths (19) and Asian residents were at 13 percent (20). There were a total of 196 deaths and 159 of them had a known race or ethnicity.

Particularly concerning was the surging infection rate for those age 80 and over in Boston. That rate nearly doubled in one week and is now at 238.2 per 10,000 residents. The infection rate is above 111.5 per 10,000 for everyone over 50, and the virus seems to be particularly active in those 60 and above.

“There continues to be a low percentage of Boston resident COVID-19 cases under 20 years of age,” read the report. “Nearly 35 percent of COVID-19 cases were in persons age 60 years and above. In general, COVID-19 rates increase with age.”

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