Local public health experts are urging people to wear masks in crowded spaces and get booster shots as COVID case numbers rise again.
The Boston Public Health Commission reported COVID cases in Boston spiked by nearly 40% last week. Area hospitals are averaging about 150 new COVID-related admissions per day — up nearly 24%.
The spike is likely driven by the highly infectious BA.5 subvariant, which can evade immunity.
"I mean the good news is that for the vast majority of people who have previously been infected or vaccinated, that protection will help reduce their risk of developing more severe illness and hospitalization," said Boston University School of Public Health professor Dr. David Hamer.
But Hamer said the upward trend concerns him, especially as cities across the state have dropped mask and vaccine requirements.
"If the case counts rise much more, or continue to rise, or the wastewater data go up, then it might make sense to go back to enforced mandates in certain locations," he said.
Dr. Cassandra Pierre, an infectious disease physician and associate hospital epidemiologist at Boston Medical Center, agreed that a return to mask mandates may be necessary in the future.
"We are kind of being inundated by what seems to be never-ending successive spikes of subvariants," she said. "It seems many of us are so exhausted that we don't have the wherewithal to return to earlier stages of protection that we previously have employed."
The White House is now working on a plan that would allow all adults to receive a second COVID booster shot.