After experiencing a 24 percent drop two weeks ago, the positive test rate in Back Bay and surrounding neighborhoods increased by 44 percent according to the latest data released by the Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC).
Last week the BPHC reported that 31,671 Back Bay, Beacon Hill, North End, West End, and Downtown residents were tested for COVID-19 and the data shows that 5.5 percent of those tested were COVID positive. This was a 44 percent increase from the 3.8 percent testing positive as reported two weeks ago. The citywide positive test rate average was 9.6 percent–a 35 percent percent increase from the 7.1 percent that tested positive two weeks ago.
Overall since the pandemic began 4.3 percent of Back Bay, Beacon Hill, North End, West End and Downtown residents were found to be COVID positive.
At his daily press briefing on Tuesday, Mayor Martin Walsh reiterated the City’s priority in this crisis.
“To keep people safe and contain this virus, we have to follow the science and we have to follow the data,” said Walsh.
What that means, the Mayor explained, is that city public health experts collect comprehensive testing data and hospital data. They analyze it to understand how and where the virus is spreading, and the impact it is having.
“We shape our responses and our guidance based on what the data indicates,” said Walsh.. “And, we share the data with the public, so you can be armed with knowledge to help keep yourself, your family, and your community safe. That’s a process of continual feedback and learning because, just as this epidemic evolves and its impact on our neighborhoods evolves, our knowledge about it must evolve as well. We need to adapt and update our understanding of COVID spread in the community.”
The Mayor announced that, starting this week, the City will be publishing a total of six key metrics relating to test results and hospital usage. The goal, he said, is to give residents the most current and comprehensive picture of the virus as they can.
“The more we know, and the more you know, the better informed and prepared we can all be,” he said.
The Mayor emphasized that every metric right now is telling city officials that we are in the midst of a significant and concerning increase in COVID activity in the city.
“The daily case increases we are seeing are starting to look like numbers that we saw near our peak, in April and May,” said Walsh. “Hospital admissions are not at that level, but they have increased over time. We all must be focused on turning this trend around.”
The Mayor said that the City is looking closely at what steps we can take to further limit the risk of transmission.
“We have taken a cautious approach throughout this pandemic, making safety our priority,” said Walsh. “We pulled back on in-person learning in the Boston Public Schools. This week we were able to bring back 150 students with the highest needs, who desperately need in-person services. The Mayor thanked the families and teachers for making that possible. We have kept our limits on gathering sizes low. Private, indoor gatherings are limited to 10 people, and private outdoor gatherings to 25 people. For events in public spaces, the limit is 25 people indoors and 50 people outdoors. We’ve worked with the state to limit restaurant hours and retail hours, and put in place a Stay-at-home advisory for the hours between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.”
However, the Mayor cautioned, if these case numbers continue to go up, the city will have to go further but added that he is mindful of the impact that restrictions have on the local economy and small businesses.
“But we must put the health of our community first because, in the end, there is no economic recovery without public health,” he said.
The infection rate in Back Bay and surrounding neighborhoods increased 11.7 percent in one week according to the latest city statistics.
The BPHC data released last Friday showed Back Bay, Beacon Hill, North End, West End and Downtown had an infection rate of 165.8 cases per 10,000 residents, up from 148.2 cases per 10,000 residents.
Nearly 100 additional residents became infected with the virus last week and the total number of cases in the area increased from 826 cases to 923 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 1 percent last week and went from 24,159 cases to 24,393 cases. Five more Boston residents died from the virus and there are now 889 total deaths in the city from COVID.