The spike in COVID-19 cases in Massachusetts continues.
The state reported almost 2,600 new cases in its 3-day report yesterday — that's more than 20% higher than last Monday.
And there are now more than 300 people hospitalized for COVID. Meanwhile, some communities have brought back mask mandates, though Gov. Charlie Baker has not indicated he's considering requiring masks statewide.
Sam Scarpino, managing director of pathogen surveillance for the Rockefeller Foundation, joined WBUR's Morning Edition to discuss.
Below are highlights from their conversation, which have been lightly edited.
On Massachusetts' COVID-19 numbers
“I am concerned about the numbers in Massachusetts. Cases are considerably higher than they've been in months. However, hospitalizations and deaths are much lower, indicating that the vaccines are highly effective.
"The hospitalization numbers are certainly up. However, they're much lower than they would have been in the pre-vaccine era of COVID with the same number of cases."
On whether there should be a mask or vaccine mandate
"We do need to take more steps to control the transmission of COVID-19. Indoor gatherings, restaurants, child care settings — those are places where most of the transmission is happening outside of the household. And so, I think we do need to consider more widespread masking.
"I think that we do need to seriously consider vaccine mandates, especially for individuals that are going to be in contact with those that are unvaccinated or for those that are at high risk of severe disease.
"The evidence for the effectiveness of mandates is mixed. Community buy-in is far more important for masking than statewide mandates. However, we do need coordinated guidance from the state to ensure that businesses and communities are not on their own in making these difficult decisions."
On comparing this summer's situation to last summer's
"Cases are already much higher this time than they were last year. They're almost three times higher in terms of the seven-day rolling average. However, hospitalizations and deaths are down and we have the vaccines. So I think that we can bring this under control and have the potential for a much more normal fall."
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This segment aired on August 10, 2021.