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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Medical experts caution Boston as COVID-19 cases rise

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Olivia Reid

A student waits to be seen at University Health Services, located on the second floor of UMass Boston’s Quinn Administration Building.

As COVID-19 cases rise in Massachusetts, so do the concerns and cautions from medical expertsespecially as the holiday festivities approach. As of Dec. 1, the recent report from the state’s Department of Public Health representing data on COVID-19 activity reflected that the seven-day average of positive COVID-19 tests spiked to 7.85 percent. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health is no longer issuing daily COVID-19 reports. The above information contains seven days of data commencing Thursday, Dec. 1. As of Dec. 8, there were 7,499 new confirmed cases and 239 patients primarily hospitalized for illness caused by the virus (1,2).
COVID-19 cases have been surging since the pandemic started, but the rate has increased after the Omicron variant triggered more hospitalization among patients. The Massachusetts Water Resources Authority’s COVID-19 wastewater data has also shown some rise, reaching their highest point since late October. Meanwhile, COVID-19 cases are rising, and the number of flu cases is increasing rapidly (3).
Officials are using the wastewater data provided by MWRA as an early warning in keeping track of the number of COVID-19 infections before patients are tested. Matthew Fox, a professor of epidemiology and global health at the Boston University School of Public Health, said in a comment, “The wastewater data has been really good at predicting a coming wave of COVID and, given that we’ve just come out of the [Thanksgiving] holiday, it’s very unsurprising that we would see an increase in cases,” (4).
The Boston Public Health Commission cautioned the residents about the rising cases during the holiday season. BPHC highly recommends that residents take COVID-19 boosters and annual flu vaccination. Family gatherings and indoor events made the chances of getting infectious diseases like the flu highly likely. In addition to boosters and flu shots, residents are encouraged to practice masking in public spaces.
As of Nov. 29, the city of Boston reported a 14 percent increase in COVID-19 cases, and as of Nov. 30, a 24 percent increase in COVID-19 related hospitalizations. Only 11 percent of city residents have the Omicron-specific new bivalent booster. Those who are not boosted are highly susceptible to severe illness and hospitalizations. Officials in the city and medical professionals are concerned that if the rate continues to rise, it will place more strain on hospitals and providers (5).
“Let’s prioritize staying healthy this holiday season. In addition to masking indoors, one of the easiest and most effective ways to do that is by getting a COVID-19 booster and an annual flu shot,” said Dr. Bisola Ojikutu, Commissioner of Public Health and Executive Director of the Boston Public Health Commission.
UMass Boston is closely monitoring the campus COVID-19 rate to provide relevant data and information to students. As of the latest Campus Currents updates, the campus is still following the CDC guidelines for indoor masking. Boosters and vaccination are mandatory for students except for those with exemptions.
With flu cases rising daily, students are encouraged to practice regular testing at the University Health Services. According to the university guidelines, if any members of the UMass Boston community receive a positive test, they should isolate for at least five days and wear a mask following isolation.
In an email from Robert Pomales, executive director of University Health Services, the CDC Community Level for Suffolk County is still “medium,” but we have seen an increase recently in the finding of COVID-19 in Boston’s wastewater as well as an increase in cases within the community. Students can get their boosters at local pharmacies or University Health Services. Search for an appointment on MyHealthBeacon.
Sources:

  1. https://www.boston.com/news/coronavirus/2022/12/02/covid-19-wastewater-levels-increasing-as-state-sees-jump-in-percent-positivity/
  2. https://www.mass.gov/info-details/covid-19-response-reporting#covid-19-interactive-data-dashboard-
  3. https://www.nbcboston.com/news/coronavirus/mass-reports-5068-new-covid-19-cases-this-week/2909059/
  4. https://www.bostonglobe.com/2022/12/02/metro/level-coronavirus-mass-waste-water-just-shot-up/
  5. https://www.boston.gov/news/boston-residents-encouraged-get-updated-covid-19-boosters-during-holiday-season
  6. https://t.e2ma.net/webview/0x7uvj/fb5d976fd1094929c45df7f20c0e727c#
About the Contributors
Kaushar Barejiya, News Editor
Olivia Reid, Photo Editor