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Charts: The status of the COVID-19 pandemic in Mass.

Citing concerns about the arrival of the Omicron subvariant BA.5, federal health officials are urging people to get vaccinated against COVID-19, boosted, and double-boosted if they’re eligible.

In Boston, health officials have asked people to take precautions such as wearing masks in crowded indoor spaces, including public transportation.

Experts are warning that if you’ve been vaccinated or previously had COVID-19, you may not be as protected from BA.5 as you think.

It’s enough to make you wonder where the pandemic is heading right now. Here are four charts that paint a picture of what’s happening in Massachusetts.



As of last Tuesday, 552 people were hospitalized with COVID-19, including 165 who were primarily hospitalized for COVID-related illnesses, according to the Department of Public Health.

The number has been trending up for about a month, 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 hospitalization numbers will be updated Thursday. The Department of Public Health is now updating many of its closely watched numbers weekly, on Thursday.


The weekly number of reported confirmed and probable coronavirus cases as of last Thursday was 9,935, up slightly from 9,682 as of July 7, 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.

Waste water

The amount of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, detected in the waste water that flows into the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority’s Deer Island treatment plant is considered a key indicator of the prevalence of COVID-19 infections in greater Boston.

It’s 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 no sign of a 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.

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.



Matthew Fox, a professor of epidemiology and global health at the Boston University School of Public Health., said he was “still in wait-and-see mode,” unsure what the next twist will be from the pandemic.

He said there was no sign yet of a “huge spike” in cases. And hospitalization and death numbers appeared to be “in good shape,” though the hospitalization numbers were up somewhat.

“While I do expect to see an uptick in cases, I’m not yet convinced it will be a big one,” he said in an e-mail. “I’ll need to see more before I move in that direction.”

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