BOSTON – May 26, 2022—The Boston City Council has voted to approve Dr. Sandro Galea and Gregory Wilmot to the Boston Board of Health. Both new members were appointed by Mayor Wu. The Council also voted to reappoint Phillomin Laptiste and Guale Valdez to serve another term on the Board.
"Dr. Sandro Galea and Gregory Wilmot will bring the necessary experience to the Board of Health to ensure our public health policy is responsive to the needs of all Bostonians. I am grateful to Manny Lopes and Dr. Jennifer Childs-Roshak for their service to our city," said Mayor Michelle Wu.
Mayor Wu has appointed Dr. Sandro Galea to serve as the Chairperson of the Board. Galea is a physician and epidemiologist currently serving as dean of the Boston University School of Public Health. Galea's research on social determinants of health, mental health, and trauma has been published extensively in peer reviewed medical and academic journals and publications. He is one of the most cited scholars in the social sciences field. He holds a medical degree from the University of Toronto, as well as graduate degrees from Harvard University and Columbia University. Galea is being appointed to a seat formerly held by Dr. Jennifer Childs-Roshak, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts and President of Planned Parenthood Advocacy Fund of Massachusetts.
"I am deeply honored by Mayor Wu's appointment to the Board of Health, and I look forward to serving the city of Boston during this challenging time," said Dr. Galea.
Greg Wilmot is the President and CEO of East Boston Neighborhood Health Center. His appointment fills the community health center board seat that was recently vacated by Manny Lopes. East Boston Neighborhood Health Center is one of the largest community health centers in Massachusetts, and Wilmot oversees its over $200 million operating revenue and nearly 1,500 staff members. Wilmot has strong experience in health care leadership and administration. Prior to his role with East Boston Neighborhood Health Center, he served in senior management roles with AllWays Health Partners, the Boston Medical Center, and as a senior advisor to Governor Deval Patrick's Executive Office of Health and Human Services.
"I am thrilled to have Dr. Sandro Galea and Greg Wilmot joining the Board of Health. Both are outstanding leaders who add significant management, health communications, and academic rigor to the conversation about the future of public health in Boston. I look forward to working with them to guide and enhance the Commission's work," said Dr. Bisola Ojikutu, Commissioner of Public Health and Executive Director of the Boston Public Health Commission.
The Board of Health serves an important role in helping the Boston Public Health Commission achieve its health goals for the city. Throughout the Commission's history, agency staff have relied on the leadership of the Board to provide valuable agenda setting, oversight, guidance, and policy development functions. The Board's support is particularly important as BPHC leads the response and recovery from COVID-19, works to eliminate health inequities in Boston, and strengthen mental and behavioral health interventions and resources available to residents.
The next Boston Board of Health meeting is set for June 8.
About the Board of Health & Boston Public Health Commission
The Boston Public Health Commission, which functions as Boston's health department, was established by a special act of the Massachusetts Legislature in 1995. The Board of the Boston Public Health Commission, which serves as the Board of Health for the City of Boston is governed by the Boston Public Health Act of 1995, Chapter 147 of the Acts of 1995. The Act grants the Board the powers and duties of boards of health under Massachusetts law, including the authority to adopt, amend and repeal reasonable health regulations. The powers of the Commission are exercised by or under the supervision of the seven-member board which is appointed by the Mayor.
BOSTON—May 25, 2022—With high rates of community transmission in Boston and throughout Massachusetts, the Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) is urging residents to take all necessary COVID-related precautions to ensure they can celebrate the holiday weekend safely among friends and family. BPHC is also notifying residents that COVID-19 boosters are now available for children ages 5-11. Earlier this week, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health issued a bulletin announcing that COVID-19 booster doses could be provided for those over the age of 5.
The latest data indicate that the risk for COVID-19 remains high. The amount of virus in local wastewater continues to be significantly elevated. Community positivity is at 11 percent and the city is averaging 54.2 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents, a slight decrease over the last two weeks. Despite this promising sign, all the data suggest a higher likelihood of COVID-19 transmission during large in-person gatherings this weekend.
"The beginning of summer is an exciting time and after two very difficult years, everyone is eager to gather. However, the risk of COVID-19 transmission is currently high," said Dr. Bisola Ojikutu, Executive Director of the Boston Public Health Commission. "Wear a mask indoors, get tested, particularly prior to gatherings, stay home if you are ill and reach out to your health care provider for treatment if you test positive. Take all the necessary precautions, because you can't go to Red Sox games, or go to the beach, or host cookouts if you're sick with COVID-19."
BPHC urges everybody to take all necessary COVID-19 precautions to ensure a safe Memorial Day Weekend by:
- Gathering outside as often as possible to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission;
- Also keep windows open for proper ventilation
- Testing for COVID-19 before and after attending gatherings, especially if you will be around high-risk individuals, such as seniors, those who are immunocompromised, and those who are unvaccinated;
- Wearing well-fitted, high-quality masks indoors, including on public transportation;
- Staying home if you're sick or test positive for COVID-19; and
- Staying up to date on your vaccinations, either by beginning your primary series, completing your primary series, or getting a booster dose.
- COVID-19 boosters are now available for those ages 5-11.The CDC now recommends that children ages 5 through 11 years should receive a Pfizer-BioNTech booster shot 5 months after their initial Pfizer-BioNTech vaccination series.
Those who test positive for COVID-19 should contact a health care provider immediately to ask about antiviral treatments. Antivirals are now much more available and are highly effective at preventing severe illness and hospitalization. The State is offering a free program where residents can have Paxlovid, an oral antiviral COVID-19 treatment, sent to them for free, or available for pharmacy pick-up, via telehealth appointments. For more information visit the Mayor's Health Line, or call 617-534-5050. Consultations are available in English, Spanish, Haitian Creole, and Portuguese. Those without a health care provider can contact the Gothams Self-Referral Treatment Line at 508-213-1380, from Monday through Saturday from 8am to 6pm to access COVID-19 anti-viral treatments, as well.
There are many resources available to Boston residents to ensure their health and wellbeing. PCR testing sites are open across the city with limited wait times, and results are usually available within 24-hours. To find a testing site near you, visit boston.gov/covid19-testing. At-home rapid antigen testing kits are also widely available for purchase at pharmacies. Free, walk-in vaccine clinics are also operating throughout Boston, with first and second doses available for everyone ages 5 and older, as well as booster doses for those ages 12 and up. For more information about vaccine clinics, visit boston.gov/covid19-vaccine.
For more information on monkey pox in Massachusetts and what is being
done, go to: Monkeypox
BOSTON – May 23, 22—The Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) has issued a public health advisory for Jamaica Pond due to a suspected bloom of blue-green algae, also known as cyanobacteria. Based on initial visual inspection of the pond, it appears likely that Jamaica Pond is experiencing a harmful algae bloom. These blooms may produce toxins that can make people and pets sick. Park visitors are urged to avoid contact with the water and any areas of algae concentration, even on shore.
Jamaica Pond is temporarily closed to water activities.
During the closure, park visitors cannot:
- Swim, fish, boat or engage in other recreational activities on or in the water
- Allow dogs to swim in or drink the water
If you, your child, or your dog comes in contact with the water or an algae bloom, rinse off immediately.
Blue-green algae can form harmful blooms in lakes, ponds, and rivers that make the water murky, and can sometimes make the water look like pea soup or paint. The current suspected bloom in Jamaica Pond appears like a dull green discoloration that could be confused as otherwise safe pond water. Blue-green algae blooms can produce toxins that may make people and pets sick. Toxins may be present within the algae cells or in the water.
For humans, the primary concern is ingestion of water containing blue-green algae while swimming. Direct skin contact with the blue-green algae and inhalation of water droplets containing blue-green algae or toxins is a secondary concern. For dogs, the primary concern is the ingestion of water containing blue-green algae or scum that has washed ashore or gotten onto their skin or fur.
Contact may cause skin and eye irritation, and inhalation can cause respiratory irritation and exacerbate pre-existing respiratory conditions. Toxins are not absorbed through the skin. Ingestion of blue-green algae can cause acute gastrointestinal symptoms, such as vomiting and diarrhea. If the blue-green algae are producing toxin(s), the health effects can be more serious, especially for small pets due to their smaller body weights. Ingestion of the toxins can cause acute gastrointestinal distress and, depending on the specific toxin, can affect the functioning of the liver, kidneys, and/or neurological systems and in severe cases can result in death.
Call your veterinarian immediately if your dog has been around an algae bloom and shows symptoms such as vomiting, staggering, drooling, or convulsions. These symptoms present themselves soon after exposure. Dogs have been known to eat the scum that washes ashore and/or lick scum out of their fur. In Massachusetts and in many other states, canine deaths have been documented due to the ingestion of harmful algae.
When will this advisory be lifted?
Algae blooms may last for weeks in the summer or may disappear quite quickly. The Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) will coordinate with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) over the coming weeks. DPH water sampling will determine when the advisory can be lifted. DPH recommends that the recreational water advisory not be lifted until two consecutive weekly samples show algal cell counts below the safe limit of 70,000 cells/milliliter of water.
If you have any questions, concerns, or would like more information, please call the Mayor's Health Line at 617-534-5050.
BOSTON – May 19, 2022 – As COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue a weeks-long increase, the Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC), is urging residents to keep up with COVID-19 best practices that have proven highly effective at lowering the spread of virus and reducing hospitalizations and death.
The Boston Public Health Commission strongly recommends residents:
- Wear high-quality, well-fitting masks indoors and on public transportation;
- Stay up to date on COVID-19 vaccinations and boosters;
- Stay home if you feel sick;
- Ensure proper indoor ventilation by opening windows when possible;
- Gather outdoors as the weather warms, instead of indoors;
- Test for COVID-19; and
- Contact your health care provider about anti-viral treatment if diagnosed with COVID-19.
According to the latest data, Boston is averaging 61 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents per day and community positivity is now at 11.5 percent. Increased COVID-19 transmission throughout Boston has made it critical for residents to keep up with effective prevention and mitigation strategies, especially testing.
"We have noted a significant increase in both COVID-19 cases and in hospitalizations. COVID-19 testing remains a critical tool to decrease the risk of transmission to others, particularly those who are older, immunocompromised, and unvaccinated. They remain at high risk for severe illness," said Dr. Bisola Ojikutu, Commissioner of Public Health and Executive Director of the Boston Public Health Commission. "We need to decrease onward transmission to others. Please test prior to gatherings, wear a well-fitted mask in indoor settings, including public transportation, and stay home if you are sick."
You should test for COVID-19 if you:
- Are sick or experiencing symptoms;
- Have been exposed to COVID-19;
- Recently attended an indoor gathering or plan on attending an indoor gathering; or
- Will be around individuals at risk for severe illness, such as the immunocompromised and the unvaccinated.
BPHC supports several free walk-in testing sites in communities
throughout Boston, all of which provide PCR-testing and results that are usually
available withing 24-hours. More information about locations and hours of
operation can be found by visiting boston.gov/covid19-testing.
At-home rapid testing kits are also available for purchase at retailers. Here are some helpful tips for using a rapid test:
- Rapid tests are very accurate; however, timing of the test is key, and tests can be falsely negative as your viral load is starting to rise, even if you are infected with COVID-19 and are experiencing symptoms.
- If you test negative using a rapid at-home antigen test but are still symptomatic, BPHC recommends the following:
- Take a PCR test to confirm the negative result and isolate in the meantime.
- Repeat an at-home antigen test in 24-48 hours and continue isolation.
- While waiting for the results of your PCR test or repeat testing, stay home until symptoms resolve and consult your physician to see if additional testing is needed.
- Bear in mind that if the PCR test comes back negative, but you are still symptomatic, it means you are sick with something other than COVID-19, and you should still isolate from others and take proper precautions to not spread your illness.
- If you test positive for COVID-19, you must isolate for a minimum five days, regardless of vaccination status. However, there are individuals who may remain infectious after. BPHC strongly recommends that individuals who seek to exit isolation before Day 11:
- Obtain negative COVID-19 test result on or after Day 5
- Wear a mask around others while indoors for a total of 10 days after their first positive test
- Isolation can be discontinued when symptoms improve, and you receive a negative rapid test result on or after day five of the isolation period.
BPHC's full isolation guidance is available online.
If you are unable to isolate for the full period, wear a well-fitted mask around others and avoid close contact with individuals as much as possible.
Anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 should contact their primary care physician to explore their COVID treatment options. Antiviral medications are now available for prescription and are effective at treating COVID-19. The state government recently announced a new program enabling residents to access Paxlovid, a highly effective COVID-19 treatment, via free telehealth appointments. BPHC strongly encourages all Massachusetts residents to utilize this valuable resource. More information about the program can be found on the Mayor's Health Line website or by calling 617-534-5050.
BOSTON—May 13--2022 – The Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) has awarded $1.5 million in funding to 34 community-based organizations that are working to address social determinants of health. The funding, from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), will support the local organization's general operation costs to offset losses from the pandemic and stabilize these critical organizations and resources. The funding was approved by the Boston City Council in 2021 and distributed in 2022.
"Many community-based organizations suffered financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic, yet the need for their services grew during the past two years," said Dr. Bisola Ojikutu, Commissioner of Public Health and Executive Director of the Boston Public Health Commission. "BPHC is proud to support organizations that are meeting the urgent needs of their communities and advancing our shared mission to build a healthier Boston."
BPHC awarded funding to community-based organizations working on a wide range of issues that impact Bostonians' health and wellness, such as food access and security, and safe and affordable housing, and other social determinants of health. Social determinants of health influence access to resources and opportunities and impact people's health.
The following 34 awardees are from a mix of types and sizes of organizations, and awards range from $20,000- $50,000 in financial support:
- About Fresh
- All Dorchester Sports & Leadership
- Bikes Not Bombs
- Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center
- Boston Food Forest Coalition
- Caribbean Integration Community Development, Inc.
- Community Servings
- East Boston Community Soup Kitchen
- Eastie Farm
- Ecumenical Social Action Committee
- Fathers' UpLift
- Garrett Pressley Autism Resource Center
- Health Leads
- Inquilinos Boricuas en Acción
- Lovin' Spoonfuls
- Madison Park Development Corporation
- Mattapan Food and Fitness Coalition
- No Books No Ball Basketball Program
- Project RIGHT
- Sociedad Latina
- Somali Development Center
- South End Soccer
- Southwest Boston Senior Services d/b/a Ethos
- Sportsmen's Tennis & Enrichment Center
- St. Stephen's Youth Programs
- The Centre for Faith, Art, and Justice
- The Community Builders
- The Urban Farming Institute of Boston, Inc
- Union Capital Boston
- Urban Edge
- Urban Revival Inc. dba City Life/Vida Urbana
- Women's Lunch Place
- Youth Enrichment Services
ABOUT THE BOSTON PUBLIC HEALTH COMMISSION
The Boston Public Health Commission, the country's oldest health department, is an independent public agency providing a wide range of health services and programs. It is governed by a seven-member board of health appointed by the Mayor of Boston. Public service and access to quality health care for all Boston residents are its cornerstone. The Commission's more than 40 programs are grouped into six bureaus: Child, Adolescent & Family Health; Community Health Initiatives; Homeless Services; Infectious Disease; Recovery Services; and Emergency Medical Services.
BOSTON—April 21, 2022—Citing a 65% increase in COVID-19 cases over the past two weeks, the Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) today urged residents to get tested, stay home if feeling unwell, keep up to date on their vaccinations, and renewed its recommendation that masks be worn indoors to protect individuals and prevent further case increases.
"With COVID-19 cases rising, we are urging all Bostonians to take extra precautions to protect yourselves, your family, and our community. If you are feeling unwell, get tested at one of our free City sites or take a rapid test. It's also important to stay up to date on your vaccinations," said Dr. Bisola Ojikutu, Executive Director of the Boston Public Health Commission. "We are recommending that individuals protect themselves and others by masking indoors, particularly in crowded places. These precautions are how we protect the progress we've made in our community."
BPHC is encouraging residents to get tested for COVID-19. Testing is an effective prevention and mitigation strategy that can help protect yourself and others. Individuals should test before going to large indoor gatherings or visiting people who are at high risk for severe disease from COVID-19. If you are sick, have been exposed to COVID-19, or recently attended a large gathering, BPHC continues to recommend getting tested. BPHC supports free walk-in testing sites all around the city. For more information about where to find a test, visit boston.gov/covid19-testing. At-home rapid testing kits are also available for purchase throughout Boston.
Getting vaccinated for COVID-19 and staying up to date with boosters reduces the risk of symptomatic COVID-19 infection, severe illness, and hospitalization. Boosting is critical to avoid waning immunity. Citywide, approximately 73% of Boston residents are fully vaccinated and 53% of those who are fully vaccinated have been boosted. Everyone 12 and older who completed their primary vaccination series at least 5 months ago is encouraged to obtain a booster shot. Second boosters are available for individuals who are age 50 or older or anyone 12 or older who has an underlying health condition that compromises their immune system who received their first booster at least 4 months ago. Free COVID-19 vaccine and booster clinics are open across the city, with both walk-in and by appointment options available. Visit boston.gov/covid19-vaccine to find a vaccine clinic.
BPHC is renewing its recommendation that masks be worn in indoor public settings, including public transportation and transportation hubs, government buildings, and crowded indoor venues. The recommendation is especially important for those who are at high risk for severe illness or who live with someone who is high risk.
COVID-19 cases have increased by 65% in the past two weeks and community positivity has climbed to 6.9% after being as low as 2.2% in early March. The amount of COVID-19 particles in local wastewater samples has increased by 109% over a 14-day period, suggesting that cases could continue to rise in the coming weeks. New hospitalizations have also slowly risen during this time period. With higher transmission levels, wearing a mask can prevent individuals from getting sick, testing can help stop the spread of COVID-19, and vaccination with boosting reduces the risk of severe illness and hospitalization.
BOSTON – April 13, 2022 – In the coming days, Boston residents will celebrate Passover and Easter, continue to observe Ramadan, attend the 126th running of the Boston Marathon, and enjoy a week of school vacation. With so much to look forward to, the Boston Public Health Commission is encouraging residents to remain vigilant about COVID-19 and to use the tools that we know work-- masking, vaccines, boosters, and testing-- to protect themselves and those around them before gathering this week and next.
COVID-19 cases have increased in Boston over the past few weeks. Community positivity is now up to 6.2%, which is above the Commission's threshold of concern, and up from 2.2% in early March. Seven neighborhoods in Boston are currently above the 5% positivity threshold: Charlestown (8.2%), Allston-Brighton (7.9%), Back Bay/Beacon Hill/Downtown/North End/West End (7.6%), South Boston (7.0%), South End (6.9%), Jamaica Plain (6.2%), and West Roxbury (6.0%).
Data also show that young people ages 20-30 currently have the highest case rate citywide. These increased rates, as we approach a holiday weekend, make it important for residents to take appropriate precautions to prevent further increases and help the city move out of the pandemic.
"Celebrating with family and friends is an important and treasured time, and as cases increase, we must remain vigilant so we can be together safely," said Dr. Bisola Ojikutu, Commissioner of Public Health and Executive Director of the Boston Public Health Commission. "We have the tools – testing, masking, vaccines, and boosters--to stay safe and lower the risk of COVID-19 infection and severe illness. I encourage everyone to look out for themselves and those around them by taking appropriate precautions before, during, and after gatherings this weekend and beyond."
The Commission asks residents to take the following steps to protect themselves and others:
- Wear a well-fitting mask to minimize your likelihood of contracting and spreading the virus. Masking is especially important for those who are at higher risk for severe illness, such as people who are not fully vaccinated, seniors, and those who are immunocompromised. Also consider wearing a mask around those who may be at high risk for severe COVID-19, especially if you may have been exposed to COVID-19 recently.
- Get tested before attending indoor gatherings, especially if you will be around high-risk individuals. There are several free, walk-in testing sites operating around the city, and results are usually available within 24 hours. For more information about where to find a test, visit boston.gov/covid19-testing or call the Mayor's Health Line at 617-534-5050. At-home tests are available for sale at retail stores. Your insurance plan may cover the cost of at-home tests. If you haven't already, you can order free tests at www.covid.gov/tests or by calling 1-800-232-0233.
- Stay up to date on your vaccinations by getting boosted. Boosters are essential for maintaining a strong immunity against COVID-19 and are effective for preventing severe illness that can result in hospitalization and even death. Boosters are widely available at free walk-in vaccine clinics throughout Boston. To find a vaccine clinic near you, visit boston.gov/covid19-vaccine.
- Open windows or gather outside as much as possible. This is especially important for businesses and houses of worship that expect to serve a higher number of patrons in the coming days.
- If you're feeling sick, please stay home and isolate to prevent further spread to those around you. Get tested, and if you test positive, call your doctor right away. Early treatments that prevent severe illness and hospitalization may be an option for you.
Residents should take precautions to ensure they can experience everything our city has to offer this Spring by getting vaccinated, staying up to date on their vaccinations, wearing a mask, testing, and staying home when they feel sick or test positive for COVID-19.
Boston Public Health Commission Adopts CDC Recommendation of Second COVID-19 Booster for the Immunocompromised and Those Over 50
Residents are encouraged to stay up to date on their vaccinations
BOSTON—March 30, 2022—The Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) today announced it is recommending a second COVID-19 booster dose for residents aged 50 and older at least four months after their initial booster dose, as well as those over the age of 12 that are moderately to severely immunocompromised. The Commission's recommendations are aligned with recommendations issued earlier this week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH).
Those eligible for a second booster are:
- Individuals aged 50 and older at least four months after getting their first booster;
- Immunocompromised individuals aged 18 and older at least four months after getting their first booster;
- Immunocompromised individuals aged 12 and older may get a second Pfizer booster at least four months after their first booster; and
- Those aged 18 and older who received a primary vaccine and booster dose of Johnson & Johnson's Janssen COVID-19 vaccine at least 4 months ago.
A second booster dose is recommended for these groups due to their increased risk of severe illness that can result in hospitalization and death. Boston and much of the Northeast has seen an uptick in COVID-19 cases recently. At the same time, there have been declines in weekly vaccination rates and waning vaccine immunity.
"Boosters are essential for preventing severe illness from COVID-19," said Dr. Bisola Ojikutu, Commissioner of Public Health and Executive Director of the Boston Public Health Commission. "I urge all residents to stay up to date on their vaccinations by getting boosted as soon as possible, and to receive a second booster dose if eligible. Vaccine immunity wanes over time, and boosters are critical to maintaining a strong defense against COVID-19."
Being up to date on COVID-19 vaccinations (having two primary vaccine doses and a booster) is the most effective way to protect yourself from COVID-19
, but only 52% of Boston's fully vaccinated population have been boosted. There are significant racial disparities among this population--only 46% of fully vaccinated Black residents and 41% of fully vaccinated Latinx residents have gotten a booster. The Commission recommends that all fully vaccinated residents over the age of 12 receive an initial booster dose. While COVID-19 cases are relatively low right now, COVID-19 infection can result in very serious medical problems, including long COVID. Not only have boosters been proven to provide immunity against the Delta, Omicron, and BA.2 variants, there is mounting evidence that suggests they also reduce the likelihood of developing long COVID.
The BA.2 subvariant poses a substantially higher risk of death and severe illness for those who are unvaccinated. If you have not started your vaccination series, do so immediately.
COVID-19 vaccines and boosters, including second booster doses for those who are eligible, are available at vaccination clinics across the city. To find a vaccine or booster near you, visit boston.gov/covid19-vaccine
or call the Mayor's Health Line at 617-534-5050. A list of vaccine clinics being held over the next seven days is available here
BOSTON—Wednesday, March 9, 2022— Mayor Michelle Wu and Dr. Bisola Ojikutu, Commissioner of Public Health and Executive Director of the Boston Public Health Commission, today announced Boston's COVID-19 Public Health Emergency Declaration will end on April 1, 2022. The announcement follows a vote by the Boston Board of Health during their Wednesday meeting following the recommendation of Dr. Ojikutu. The Emergency Declaration has been in place since March 15, 2020.
"Today's announcement is a testament to how Boston came together in a historically challenging time to lift up public health and community," said Mayor Michelle Wu. "As we transition to this next phase of living with COVID, we will focus on providing the testing, resources, and planning to keep our communities safe and prepared."
"While the City of Boston is no longer in a state of emergency, we must continue to protect our most vulnerable residents and prepare for the future," said Dr. Bisola Ojikutu. "Now is the time for us to use all of the lessons learned from the pandemic, strengthen community partnerships, develop stronger public health infrastructure, and ensure an equitable recovery for all."
Dr. Ojikutu's recommendation to rescind the order is based on the City's consistently improving core COVID-19 metrics, including community positivity, daily adult COVID-19 hospitalizations, and occupied ICU beds. As of March 7, the community positivity rate is 2.2%, down from a peak of 32% in early January. Daily adult hospitalizations have also steadily declined and are now down to 94 after peaking at 769 in mid-January. The percentage of occupied ICU beds has been consistently below the Commission's 95% threshold of concern over the last few weeks.
During their meeting, Boston Public Health Commission officials provided a recommended framework for Boston Public Schools to use in determining when to lift the school masking requirement. Dr. Sarimer Sánchez from BPHC's Infectious Diseases Bureau advised reviewing the school masking policy when the number of positive COVID-19 tests per day in Boston falls below 10 cases per day per 100,000 residents while considering other COVID-19 metrics. BPHC is also encouraging development of "mask friendly" policies for students and staff and increasing access to vaccines in school communities. The current COVID-19 daily case incidence is approximately 13 cases per 100,000 residents in Boston. The final decision on revising the school mask policy will be made by Boston Public Schools.
The consistently improving metrics also mean the City of Boston and the Boston Public Health Commission can shift their focus to longer-term planning and preparedness efforts, developing a roadmap to handle future surges and pandemics, while continuing to support ongoing efforts to increase access to vaccinations and testing.
The Boston Public Health Commission declared a state of emergency at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, a decision made in consultation with infectious disease and public health emergency preparedness experts at the Commission as well as the City and other emergency preparedness, public health, and healthcare experts. The Declaration was instrumental in Boston establishing an incident command structure and deploying staff and resources to perform crisis response and healthcare coordination functions throughout the pandemic.
"Based on the data, it is clear to the Board that the emergency declaration is no longer necessary," said Manny Lopes, Chair of the Boston Board of Health. "I am proud to have worked with Mayor Wu and Dr. Ojikutu, who led with science and made the hard but necessary decisions that kept our city safe and on the path to a much brighter future. The Board looks forward to our continued partnership with the City as we monitor the pandemic and help guide the city toward recovery."
Despite lower case numbers, BPHC cautions residents that COVID-19 is still transmissible, and can result in severe illness and hospitalization, especially for the city's most vulnerable residents. The Commission recommends residents protect themselves and those around them by getting vaccinated, boosted, and wearing masks indoors if they are at high risk for severe illness or if they will be around individuals who are. There are many people in Boston who are vulnerable to COVID-19, including individuals who are immunocompromised, seniors, and those who are unvaccinated, including young children. Wearing a well-fitting mask or respirator while indoors minimizes your risk of getting infected with COVID-19 and spreading it to others. Face coverings are still required on public transportation and at transportation hubs, Boston Public Schools, health care settings, congregate care facilities, emergency shelter programs, and correctional facilities.