Weekly positive COVID-19 test rate down for fourth continuous week

The cumulative COVID-19 positive test rate in the Back Bay and the surrounding neighborhoods increased slightly while the weekly positive test rate decreased for a fourth week in a row. 

According to the latest data released by the Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) last Friday, overall since the pandemic started 43,525 Back Bay, Beacon Hill, North End, West End and Downtown residents have been tested for COVID-19 and the data shows that 5.9 percent of those tested were COVID positive–this was 3.5 increase from the 5.7 percent reported by the BPHC two weeks ago.

Last week 3,097 residents were tested and 2.4 percent were positive–a 20 percent decrease from the 3 reported two Fridays ago.

Citywide, ​​29,297 residents were tested and 4.8 percent were COVID positive–a 17 percent decrease from the 5.8 percent testing positive two weeks ago.

At his press briefing last week Mayor Martin Walsh reminded residents that Governor Charlie Baker would increase the statewide capacity restrictions from 25 percent to 40 percent for the businesses that are allowed to be open in Phase 3 Step 1. The Mayor said that the City of Boston is aligning with the State on these capacity restrictions. The City and the State are now currently in Phase 3, Step 1 of reopening. The limit on gatherings remains at 25 people outdoors, and 10 people indoors. This applies to both public and private spaces.

The Mayor encouraged residents and business owners to visit Mass.gov/reopening for a more detailed list, as well as industry-specific guidance.

Walsh said that the improvement the city has seen in its numbers is encouraging, and means the measures the city has taken are making a difference.

“It does not, however, mean that anyone should let their guards down,” said Walsh. “Instead, everyone must do their part to keep the numbers going down so that certain activities can stay open, safely.”

The Mayor said that throughout this crisis, Boston has taken a cautious approach.

“We only move forward if the public health data says that it’s safe to do so, and the City has been enforcing safety protocols,” said Walsh. “Most restaurants in Boston have been doing a great job, and I thank them for that, but that the City is also taking swift action when establishments do not meet safety protocols. The Inspectional Services Department continues to work with Boston Police, Boston Fire, the Licensing Board, and Boston Public Health Commission on enforcement. They are in constant contact with our business owners to make sure they understand the regulations. They’re providing restaurants with the tools they need to get up to code. These departments work together to investigate and address violations.”

If residents have concerns about a property, they can call 3-1-1 or the BPD’s party line at 617-343-5500.

The Licensing Board has instituted a weekly standing emergency hearing on Mondays to address any violations that come up over the weekend. Those hearings have resulted in immediate closures, when necessary.

City agencies responded to about 2,500 complaints in 2020. Most were dealt with immediately, and all of them were dealt with within 24 hours.

For example the City recently got a call from a patron who had dined at a restaurant that was not adhering to capacity restrictions. That same night, BPD conducted an inspection and confirmed that there was a violation. By Monday morning, that Licensee went before the Licensing Board, and had their license suspended.

“Nobody wants to shut restaurants down,” said Walsh. “We’re doing everything we can to help local businesses with grants, helping them procure PPE, and loosening restrictions for things like outdoor dining. But the health and safety of our residents always comes first. We will continue to take swift action whenever there’s a violation. Again, I thank the vast majority of restaurants for doing a great job under difficult circumstances.”

The infection rate in the Back Bay and surrounding neighborhoods increased 4.3 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 469.8  cases per 10,000 residents, up 6 percent from 450.6 cases per 10,000 residents.

An additional 107 residents became infected with the virus last week and the total number of cases in the area increased from 2,511 cases to 2,618 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 2.6 percent  percent last week and went from  55,236 cases to 56,711 confirmed cases in a week. Thirty-eight additional Boston residents died from the virus last week and there are now 1,232 total deaths in the city from COVID.

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