The Perfect Enemy | Charts: The COVID-19 pandemic in Mass. is not going away
August 11, 2022

Charts: The COVID-19 pandemic in Mass. is not going away

Charts: The COVID-19 pandemic in Mass. is not going away  The Boston Globe

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COVID-19 won’t be taking the summer off. Experts say the virus likely will continue to circulate in the population, causing more infections and hospitalizations, though probably not a dramatic surge in severe illness, the Globe reported last week.

The stubborn persistence of COVID-19 was highlighted last week when President Biden contracted the coronavirus.

Indeed, data from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health suggest that there’s no sign of a COVID-19 letup, with two key metrics edging higher and a third wobbling up and down but not on a clear path to the bottom.

Here are four charts that paint a picture of what’s happening in Massachusetts right now as the Omicron subvariant BA.5 continues its stealthy spread.

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Hospitalizations

As of last Tuesday, 589 people were hospitalized with COVID-19, including 189 who were primarily hospitalized for COVID-related illnesses, according to the Department of Public Health.

The numbers were up from the previous week, when a total of 552 were hospitalized, including 165 primarily hospitalized for COVID-19.

The number has been trending up for about five weeks, but it’s down from a bump in May and still far below the Omicron peak early this year, when more than 3,300 people were hospitalized with COVID-19, including nearly 1,700 who were primarily hospitalized for COVID-19.

(The weekly confirmed reported death number was 42, down from 50 in the week before.)

Cases

The weekly number of reported confirmed and probable coronavirus cases as of last Thursday was up, rising to 11,525 from 9,935 the week before, the DPH reported.

The numbers were down from a bump in May and far below the Omicron weekly peak of 160,848 early this year, according to data from DPH, which now updates many of its closely watched numbers weekly, on Thursday.

Waste water

The amount of coronavirus detected in the waste water that flows into the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority’s Deer Island treatment plant continued to fluctuate up and down in the week ending last Thursday, the agency reported.

The numbers are considered a key indicator of the prevalence of COVID-19 infections in greater Boston. They’ve become even more important as more people are using rapid, at-home tests that don’t get reported and reflected in official case counts.

The latest numbers reflect tests for the number of SARS-CoV-2 RNA copies per milliliter of waste water taken as recently as last Thursday.

The results for the northern and southern regions of the MWRA system, like the first two metrics, show a bump in May, but they’re still far below the peak reached earlier in the year. There’s no clear sign of the virus taking off but neither is there a clear sign of a much-desired plunge in the numbers, either.

CDC community levels

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last week designated 7 of the state’s 14 counties as having moderate community levels of COVID-19. The list of counties was the same as the week before.

Suffolk, Middlesex, Norfolk, Plymouth, Barnstable, Dukes, and Nantucket were designated as having moderate levels. The rest of the counties had low levels.

As recently as June 23, all the state’s counties had been seeing low levels, except for Dukes, which was at medium.

The CDC calculates community COVID-19 levels each week by reviewing the number of hospital beds being used, hospital admissions, and new COVID-19 cases in an area.

The CDC recommends an increasing number of precautions, depending on how high the COVID-19 community level is, beginning with basics such as getting vaccinated and staying up to date on boosters, improving ventilation, and getting tested if you’ve been exposed to COVID-19 or have virus symptoms.

In communities that have high levels, people should wear masks in indoor public spaces, the CDC recommends, while noting that people can wear masks at any level based on personal preference.

Material from prior Globe stories was used in this report. Felice J. Freyer of the Globe staff contributed to this report.


Martin Finucane can be reached at martin.finucane@globe.com.