The COVID-19 surge across Boston is continuing and Mayor Martin Walsh said the city is focusing efforts on neighborhoods like Jamaica Plain that have a high volume of community spread ahead of the Christmas holiday as hospitalizations are on the rise.
Last week the BPHC reported that of the 26,438 Jamaica Plain residents tested for COVID 11.1 percent were found to be positive–an increase of 110 percent from the 5.3 percent reported just after Thanksgiving. .The citywide positive test increased 45 percent last week and went from 11.9 percent of Boston residents testing positive for the virus to 17.3 percent.
On Wednesday, Mayor Martin Walsh said that the number of COVID patients in city hospitals has continued to rise and, as expected, the latest data has crossed the thresholds for concern on some health data metrics.
The Mayor said daily Emergency Room visits for COVID-19 have gone up for eight days in a row and that’s a concern to him and the medical community.
“The number of available adult hospital beds has gone down, and that’s a concern,” said the Mayor. “Our hospitals are not in danger, at the moment, of being overwhelmed, but the trend is concerning.”
Walsh said data confirms why his administration decided to move Boston back into a temporary, modified Phase 2, Step 2 of the reopening plan on Monday.
“Our focus is to keep the people of Boston safe,” said Walsh. “That’s what every decision we make is about. We have to reduce opportunities for COVID transmission so fewer people get sick, and so hospitals can continue to treat everyone, whether they have COVID or any other serious condition. That’s the path to a strong recovery for our city.”
On Monday, Walsh and Gov. Charlie Baker announced new state-wide restrictions for the city and state. In an effort to reduce the further spread of COVID and its impact on Boston’s health care system and essential services, Walsh said starting Wednesday Boston will return back to a modified Phase Two, Step Two of the Reopening Massachusetts plan.
“Unfortunately, we are at the point where we need to take stronger action to control COVID-19 in Boston, and urgently, to ensure our health care workers have the capacity to care for everyone in need,” said Walsh. “We are hopeful that by reducing opportunities for transmission throughout the region, we will reduce the spread of this deadly virus and maintain our ability to keep critical services open. We continue to urge everyone to take personal responsibility and follow the public health guidelines while visiting any public space or business, and employers to allow their employees to work from home as much as possible. Together, we will be able to get this virus under control, save lives, and ultimately come back stronger.”
Returning to a modified Phase Two, Step Two requires the closure of certain businesses that were allowed to open during the Phase Three reopening plan. Gatherings in private and public settings are required to have no more than 10 people for indoor settings and 25 people for outdoor settings.
The following industries in the City of Boston are required to close starting Wednesday, December 16 for at least three weeks:
Indoor fitness centers and health clubs, including gyms using alternative spaces. One-on-one personal training sessions are allowed.
• Movie theaters
• Indoor recreational and athletic facilities (except for youth 18 and under)
This does not apply to collegiate or professional sports. Collegiate sports teams in the City of Boston may continue to use indoor recreational facilities and fitness centers.
• Indoor pools may remain open for all ages under pre-registration format structure limited to one person per swim lane.
• Indoor recreational venues with potential for low-contact (batting cases, driving ranges, bowling alleys, rock-climbing)
• Sightseeing and other organized tours (bus tours, duck tours, harbor cruises, whale watching)
• Indoor historical spaces & sites
• Indoor event spaces (meeting rooms, ballrooms, private party rooms, social clubs)
• Private social clubs may continue to operate, if they serve food, consistent with restaurant guidance.
• Indoor and outdoor gaming arcades associated with gaming devices
The Mayor said bars and restaurants may remain open with bar seating restrictions and a strictly enforced 90-minute seating limit.
According to the BPHC data, Jamaica Plain’s infection rate increased 15.5 percent.
Jamaica Plain went from 308.5 cases per 10,000 residents to 356.3 cases per 10,000 residents.
One hundred ninety-three additional Jamaica Plain residents became infected with COVID-19 in the past two weeks and the number of total cases here went from 1,246 cases two weeks ago to 1,439 cases last week.
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 12.5 percent percent last week and went from 30,342 cases to 34,143 in a week. Thirty more Boston residents died from the virus and there are now 960 total deaths in the city from COVID.