Massachusetts COVID-19 cases rise to first-wave rates
No Mask, No Service sign.

Massachusetts’ coronavirus cases rose to the highest numbers the state had since May, reaching more than 1,000 cases since October 22: a possible indication of a second wave.

On October 22nd, cases in MA reached 1,049. Cases have increased since then, recently rising to 1,260 cases on October 27th. The positivity rate for tests reached 7.47% on October 28, the highest since May 27. 

The age demographic of the infections has changed since the start of the pandemic. 

In April, people under 30 accounted for 15% of cases, whereas people over 60 accounted for 42%. Now in October, people under 30 comprise 37% of new cases, with people over 60 comprising 18% of cases. 

These statistics are on trend with the rest of the United States. The CDC found in a study that people in the 20-29 age group accounted for more than 20% of all cases from June to August. 

In a press conference, Governor Charlie Baker called on people under 30 to stop holding large gatherings, especially indoors. 

State Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders said in a legislative call that 30-37% of known cases are due to households and transmission within families. 15-20% are from clusters, and are spread through private events, restaurants, and schools. The remaining 50% are due to unknown causes. 

Halloween and Thanksgiving are approaching, creating more possibilities for social gatherings and increases in cases. Governor Baker urged people to not host or attend indoor gatherings for Halloween. He said that Thanksgiving celebrations should be reserved only for immediate families, and advised people to celebrate with others virtually instead. Mask-wearing and social distancing were emphasized by Baker.

 Reopening efforts have rolled back for 13 cities and towns: Acushnet, Brockton, Chelmsford, Leicester, Malden, Plymouth, Randolph, Waltham, Webster, and Woburn. They will be moving back to Step 1 of Phase 3, as they remained in the high-risk category for three consecutive weeks. 

Public places such as libraries and gyms will reduce their capacity from 50% to 40%. Other areas that opened under Step 2, such as roller-skating rinks and indoor theaters, will close again. 

Alerts with reminders of safety rules, like wearing a mask and getting tested, were sent to 22 high-risk cities and towns.

Massachusetts was added to Connecticut’s travel advisory list. Connecticut residents who spend 24 hours or more in Massachusetts will be required to quarantine for 14 days or test negative for COVID-19. 

While New York has not added any restrictions against travel, Governor Andrew Cuomo advised New York residents to refrain from non-essential travel to Massachusetts. 

Due to rising cases, Boston Public Schools announced that they will suspend all in-person learning on October 21. High-needs students were the only group of students attending classes in-person, for two days a week at this time. Students in kindergarten to grade 3 were scheduled for in-person learning the same week the suspension was announced. 

Special education students will be able to return once the positivity rate goes below 5% for two consecutive weeks. Kindergarten to grade 3, the group previously set to return, will be able to when the rate goes down to 4% for the same time period. 

Boston Public Schools (BPS) also suspended all athletics. They will be considering resuming when the rate of positive tests in the city declines to 5% or under for two weeks. BPS only allowed for participation in cross country and golf.

Some clusters are linked to youth sports. Youth ice hockey has been cancelled due to  30 clusters and 110 cases are linked to the sport, as it includes prolonged indoor activities.

 Indoor ice rinks in Massachusetts are now shut down until November 7th. Sudders stated that some teams did not work with contact tracers and allowed student-athletes who were supposed to be quarantined to play for other teams. Secretary Sudders said that teams need to cooperate with contact tracers in order to resume, along with adhering to strict safety procedures. 

With the cold weather leading to indoor activities, along with the upcoming holidays, city and state officials are urging people to continue being vigilant and strictly adhere to COVID-19 rules to prevent the spread.

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