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Most of Mass. is now at ‘high’ community COVID levels, says the CDC

Boston officials say it’s ‘imperative’ for people to protect themselves and others.

The COVID-19 vaccine was administered at a clinic in the Lilla G. Frederick Middle School, in Boston last year.Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention elevated Suffolk County’s community risk level for COVID-19 from “medium” to “high” Friday, as public health officials urged residents to take increased precautions.

The classification comes as Boston continues to see concerning levels of COVID-19 in local wastewater samples, including a 42 percent increase of viral concentration over the past 7 days and a 116 percent increase in the past 2 weeks, according to the Boston Public Health Commission. As of Monday, BPHC’s COVID-19 testing sites are also reporting a 22 percent increase in the amount of positive cases per day.

“Based on the trends, it is imperative that we all protect ourselves and others,” said Dr. Bisola Ojikutu, Commissioner of Public Health and Executive Director of the Boston Public Health Commission in a press release. “I understand there’s a very high level of pandemic fatigue, but the numbers speak for themselves.”

More than half of Massachusetts counties are now at the highest community risk levels, including Middlesex, Worcester, Barnstable and Nantucket. The Berkshires, Essex County, Hampden County and Hampshire County are at medium risk. No counties are at low levels.


The CDC determines community risk levels based on how many people with COVID-19 have been admitted into local hospitals in the last week, how many local hospital beds are filled with COVID-19 patients, and how many new COVID-19 cases the county has reported in the last week.

The CDC advises high risk communities to wear high-quality masks or respirators in public and urges high risk individuals to consider avoiding “non-essential indoor activities in public where [they] could be exposed.” The BPHC also urges residents to test before and after attending indoor gatherings, regularly wash hands and get the omicron-specific bivalent booster if they haven’t already done so.

Only 13.7 percent of the city’s residents have received the bivalent booster, leaving many vulnerable to infections and severe illness, according to the BPHC. The boosters, which were previously approved for children aged 5-11 in October, became available to children 6 months to 4 years old in December.


“Getting boosted is the best way to protect yourself from severe illness and hospitalization,” Dr. Bisola said in the release.

The globe’s “Mass. coronavirus at a glance” graphic monitors COVID levels in all counties in the Commonwealth. As of Jan. 5, half of the graphic is red, or showing high levels of the virus.

Zeina Mohammed can be reached at Follow her @_ZeinaMohammed.