Framingham’s rate of known new Covid-19 cases in the past 14 days hit a daily rate of 340.4 per 100,000 population, according to data released today by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.
City officials said cases in the past seven days were down, from a total of 1,957 to 1,452. However, there were also four more fatalities from Covid in the past week, the city reported. 263 Framingham residents are now known to have died from Covid-19 since the pandemic began, or roughly 1 out of every 283 people.
Test positivity jumped again in the last two weeks compared to the same period a week ago, according to state DPH data, hitting 22.4%. Experts say positivity should be at 5% or below in order to be finding most cases. (Reported case numbers and positivity don’t reflect people who test positive with at-home antigen tests unless they also get an “official” PCR test.)
The rise in known cases once again outstripped an increase in PCR tests. Number of known cases rose 15.7% in the most recent 14-day period (after doubling the week before); number of tests administered to city residents increased 10.6%.
As known cases hit another record and area hospitals continue to be overwhelmed by Covid patients on top of already high occupancy rates, Framingham Mayor Charlie Sisitsky issued an executive order requiring masks to be worn in all indoor areas open to the public. That emergency public health measure went into effect yesterday.
Why a mandate now when cases are expected to be much lower by late February? Because they are still very high, and whatever we can do to disrupt transmission chains will protect both our buckling hospital system and the more medically vulnerable among us.
“Epidemics are symmetrical: Just as many people get infected on the downside as the upside,” Justin Lessler, an epidemiologist at the University of North Carolina told WBUR.
Bob Wachter, chair of the University of San Francisco Department of Medicine, posted an extremely helpful Twitter thread explaining why taking extra precautions in the next few weeks is so important.
“Some folks are a bit confused about why things are likely to be much safer in a month than now – not why virus will peak & fall (we don’t entirely know) but why the risk to individuals will plummet – & with that, why activities that are unsafe now will be much safer then,” he tweeted. It’s definitely worth reading the entire thread if you’d like to understand the reasoning behind these risk assessments (you shouldn’t need a Twitter account in order to see it.)
MWRA Wastewater Samples
Covid-19 traces in MWRA wastewater – often a leading indicator of case trends – continue to decline. That data are considered a good predictor in part because wastewater samples don’t depend on how many tests can be given to individuals or who seeks out testing.
Graph is below. Framingham is part of MWRA’s South region. (You can click the legend to turn lines off and on as well as click and drag to zoom in on a portion of the graph.)
75.9% of city residents are now “fully vaccinated”, defined as two mRNA doses or one J&J. However, the more important number is likely the number who’ve gotten an additional “booster” dose, which is considered important to fight the latest Omicron variant. 35% of city residents have received the booster, according to Massachusetts DPH data, up from 32.7% last week.