Known new Covid-19 cases jumped 34% this week to a daily rate of 63.6 per 100,000 population in the most recent 14-day period, according to data released today by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. That follows a 53% rise in the prior week.
That’s the highest rate of known cases since January.
As high as those case rates are, that’s still below the Massachusetts average, which was 67.5 known cases per 100K. (Data by community below.)
As the Omicron variant becomes a higher percentage of overall Covid cases, experts have said being “fully vaccinated” offers less protection than it did for earlier strains. Boosters, however, restore a lot of earlier protection.
The state released booster data by city for the first time in its weekly vaccination report by municipality. About 26% of city residents have received an additional vaccine dose beyond one J&J or two mRNA vaccines. Newton led the available booster data with 41.2% boosted, followed by Somerville at 35.1% and Cambridge at 33.7%. Framingham was a bit ahead of Boston’s 23.9%
Framingham announced yesterday that there were three new known fatalities in the past seven days. A total of 258 residents are known to have died from Covid-19 since the pandemic began, or roughly 1 out of every 288 residents.
The number of Covid-19 tests administered to city residents rose compared with the prior week’s period. However, tests were up only 5.5% week over week compared with the 33.7% increase in cases.
Test positivity rose to 6%, highest since January.
There’s been a lot of uncertainty as to whether the Omicron variant is “less severe” than Delta, since data is still relatively. The best explanation I’ve seen so far is from Yaneer Bar-Yam, president of the New England Complex Systems Institute in Cambridge:
UK data: Omicron is as severe as Delta for cases that would be infected by Delta, and infects people who would not be infected by Delta (due to immunity of prior infection or vaccination). Those cases are less severe. By Simpsons paradox Omicron seems less severe, but is more. 1/— Yaneer Bar-Yam (@yaneerbaryam) December 23, 2021
Also the medical definition of "mild" continues to mean "not hospitalized".— Yaneer Bar-Yam (@yaneerbaryam) December 23, 2021
Both so-called mild cases and long covid that can follow can be devastating and life changing.
How to protect ourselves in the current surge
What are the best things you can do during this latest surge? Most of the same things that have worked in previous months.
Get fully vaccinated – and boosted if you are eligible.
Wear a high-quality mask when indoors as much as possible. “High quality” means upgrading from cloth or even surgical masks to N95, KN95, or KF94 masks. Note that many experts suggest steering away from KN95s on Amazon.com because there are a lot of counterfeits. Non-profit Project N95 is one source of dependable masks. Some retailers like Home Depot also sell them. (You can find tons of data about various masks via The Mask Nerd’s ratings spreadsheet and YouTube channel).
Try to improve indoor ventilation as much as possible by opening windows – even a few minutes per hour if cold out. HEPA filter, including do-it-yourself Corsi Rosenthal boxes, can help, too.
Remember that the virus spreads via aerosols and behaves somewhat like cigarette smoke. That means is can linger in the air for awhile, even after someone who’s infected has left a room. It can spread across a poorly ventilated room even if you aren’t close to an infected person. Good rule of thumb: If you could inhale someone else’s cigarette smoke where they are, you can also inhale their virus particles.
There are a lot of great resources at covidisairborne.org.