Mass. public health commissioner says we’re in a ‘much better place’ with COVID

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About 77% of Massachusetts residents are fully vaccinated.

Gov. Charlie Baker declared a state of emergency in Massachusetts two years ago. Charles Krupa/AP Photo

On March 10, 2020, Gov. Charlie Baker declared a state of emergency in Massachusetts due to the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Now, nearly two years later, Massachusetts Public Health Commissioner Margret Cooke is painting an optimistic picture of the state’s future while living with COVID-19.

COVID-19 in Massachusetts

On Wednesday, State House News Service (SHNS) reported, Cooke told the Public Health Council that all the state’s COVID-19 data markers are in a good place.

Since the Public Health Council’s last meeting on Feb. 9, Cooke said, the seven-day average of new COVID-19 cases has decreased by 65%, and COVID-19 hospitalizations have decreased by more than 70%, SHNS reported.

Additionally, about 77% of Massachusetts residents are fully vaccinated, she said.

“With vaccines and boosters and new COVID-19 therapeutic treatments, we are in a much better place than we were at this time last year,” SHNS reported Cooke saying.

“Residents have finally been able to gather more safely with family and friends. Students are in classrooms where they should be, and more people are returning to their workplaces. I am confident that the commonwealth and the department will continue to make progress on the COVID-19 front and, with our help, will bring life to a new normal.”

So far, there have been 1,545,910 confirmed coronavirus infections in Massachusetts, and at least 22,916 people in the state have died of the disease.

COVID-19 in Boston

Boston Public Health Commission Executive Director Bisola Ojikutu also shared encouraging COVID-19 data Wednesday with the Boston Public Health Commission.

She said COVID-19 positivity rates are below 5% in every neighborhood in Boston and among every racial and ethnic group. She said the city’s overall positivity rate is 2.2%.

As a result, she recommended the commission lift its public health emergency declaration for the city, which has been in place since March 15, 2020, effective April 1.

Still, Ojikutu said that vaccination rates in the city could be improved. While 72% of city residents are fully vaccinated, she said, vaccination rates are lower in neighborhoods like Roxbury, Dorchester, and Mattapan.

Additionally, she said that only about half of fully vaccinated people in the city have had their booster shot.

Vaccination rates among children could also improve, Ojikutu said. She said that among 5- to 11-year-olds, only 40% are fully vaccinated.

Within that group, she said, there are also big racial disparities. White and Asian children in Boston have a vaccination rate of about 70%, while Black and Hispanic children in Boston have a vaccination rate of about 30%.

Ojikutu said the Boston Public Health Commission plans to try to increase vaccination rates in the city in coming months with targeted ad campaigns and vaccine clinics.

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