“Respiratory viruses, such as COVID-19, influenza and RSV, will continue to pose a challenge this holiday season,” Dr. Bisola Ojikutu, Boston’s public health commissioner, said in a statement. “We are distributing testing kits and other resources to ensure residents have the tools they need to stay safe and healthy.”
By determining the number of SARS-CoV-2 RNA copies per milliliter of wastewater, authorities can monitor the prevalence of the virus in a given community. For the southern section of the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority, the seven-day average count reached 596 copies per milliliter on November 16, up from 360 on November 9. For the northern section of the MWRA, the seven-day average count reached 433, up from 263.
Starting Monday, every household in the United States became eligible to order four additional free at-home tests – for a total of eight per household – from the federal government at www.covid.gov/tests.
“Residents should do their best to maintain their own stock of testing kits to ensure at-home testing is available throughout the holiday season, and to test before attending a gathering if necessary. they feel sick,” health commission officials said.
They also urged the population to get vaccinated most recently.
“Staying up to date on COVID-19, RSV and flu vaccines is an important strategy to reduce the risk of severe illness and hospitalization, especially during the holiday season, when colder temperatures and more Time spent indoors with loved ones increases the risk of contracting a serious illness. sick, as well as possibly transmitting illness to an elderly person or family member who may be at increased risk of serious infection,” BPHC officials said in a statement.
Epidemiologist Bill Hanage, associate professor at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, said in a statement that the recent rise was noticeable.
“Both the southern and northern systems have recently shown a pronounced increase in wastewater covid indicators,” said Hanage, who is also associate director of the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics at the Chan School. “Although the wastewater data is quite noisy, the fact that we see it in both cases suggests that it reflects a real explosion of transmission. However, more recent measurements have returned to what counts as normal. »
That said, Hanage continued, “every year since 2020, Thanksgiving has been followed by spikes in sewage and cases. And we can expect it to happen again this year, as the virus is introduced into new networks during holiday travel and gatherings. This will not have the disastrous consequences we have seen in the past thanks to vaccination, but older people remain exposed to Covid, just like other respiratory infections!
To make sure “you don’t bring an unwanted guest to your Thanksgiving dinner, you can use a rapid antigen test,” said Hanage, who is also a scientific advisor to Biobot, the Cambridge company that tracks water data worn. “And of course, if you feel unwell and have symptoms of a respiratory infection, try not to share them with your grandparents.
COVID-19 and flu vaccines are available at the Bruce C. Bolling Municipal Building in Roxbury and at Boston City Hall. The Bolling building is open Thursday to Saturday from 12:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. It will be closed on Thursday, November 23 and Friday, November 24 and will resume normal operating hours on November 25.
City Hall is open Monday from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Wednesday from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. On Wednesday, November 22, it will only be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Normal opening hours will resume Monday.
Health officials said walk-ins are welcome and no proof of insurance is needed. But individuals may be asked about their insurance status for record-keeping purposes.
Globe Staff’s Travis Andersen contributed to this report.
Emily Sweeney can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. Am here @emilysweeney and on Instagram @emilysweeney22.
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