Citing a rise in cases, Boston Public Health Commission recommends wearing masks indoors

BPHC: COVID cases are up 65% in Boston over the last two weeks

BOSTON — Health officials in Boston are renewing their recommendation for people to wear masks while in indoor public spaces in the City of Boston, citing a recent increase in cases.

“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.

The BPHC is recommending people wear masks in indoor public settings, including public transportation and transportation hubs, government buildings, and crowded indoor venues.

“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,” said Dr. Ojikutu.

At the PAX East gaming convention masks are always in play but as the largest gaming convention on the East Coast returns to Boston masks are being mandated by organizers. “If you are in any public space around other people I think it is just considerate to wear a mask. You never know if you have been exposed,” said one attendee.

PAX East Vice President of Content and Events Ryan Hartman says this is the first convention where things are pretty much back to normal. “We are erring very much on the side of caution. We want everyone to feel safe. We want to mitigate all risk,” said Hartman.

PAX East will have tens of thousands of people over the next couple of days here at the BCEC. In addition to requiring masks, the event checks proof of vaccination.

BPHC says the masking recommendation is “especially important for those who are at high risk for severe illness or who live with someone who is high risk.”

Tufts Medical Center Hospital Epidemiologist Dr Shira Doron says people should treat these changing recommendations for masks like a weather forecast. If conditions are bad — dress accordingly. “The Boston Public Health Commission is essentially providing that weather map to those who are high risk by saying actually waste water levels are up and case levels are up,” said Doron.

“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,” according to the statement from the BPHC.

Boston 25 has reached out to Mayor Michelle Wu’s office for comment on the BPHC recommendation.

Boston’s indoor mask mandate was lifted almost 7 weeks ago on March 5, regardless of a person’s vaccination status.

COVID cases have increased by 65% in the past two weeks and community positivity has climbed to 6.9%, according to the BPHC. That rate was as low as 2.2% in early March.

Masks are still required in Boston Public Schools. All students and staff must wear a mask when on school properties, and while riding school buses.

Free COVID-19 vaccine and booster clinics are open across the city, with both walk-in and by appointment options available.

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