Health professionals urge caution as virus cases rise again

BOSTON — Restaurants and other businesses are open at full capacity, many people are walking around freely without face coverings, and life in Massachusetts is returning to normal, yet health professionals are concerned about upward movement in some metrics used to measure the spread of COVID-19.

MORE: COVID-19 updates: State sees rising new case numbers Wednesday

The seven-day average of confirmed coronavirus cases climbed to 141 on Wednesday, up from a low of 52 in late June, and the seven-day average rate of positive tests has also been edging upward, according to state Department of Public Health data.

Virus-related deaths and hospitalizations remain low.

The increases come among nationwide concern about the highly contagious delta variant and a slowing of vaccination rates.

“I think something’s going on. I’m worried,” Dr. David Hamer, a physician at Boston Medical Center and a Boston University epidemiologist, told The Boston Globe. “I think that it looks like the United States is starting to have an uptick in cases on average across the whole country. ... And therefore this may be spreading into Massachusetts, so we need to increase our guard.”

Dr. Philip Landrigan, director of the Global Public Health Program at Boston College, said it’s important to keep statistics in perspective.

“Even though it’s real and even though it’s not good, the numbers are still incredibly down from where they were a few months ago,” he said.

That’s mostly due to Massachusetts high vaccination rate. More than 4.3 million people in the state, or about 62% of the population, have been fully vaccinated.

“The vaccine is highly effective and it’s effective even against the delta variant,” Landrigan said.

Experts stressed that vaccination is the best protection, and the unvaccinated should still wear face coverings indoors. Some even urged the vaccinated to wear masks indoors.

Vacations are fine this summer, but Landrigan recommended visiting areas of the country with low case rates.

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