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As Massachusetts’ COVID public health emergency winds down, advocates worry about lifting of mask mandates

As Massachusetts’ COVID public health emergency winds down, advocates worry about lifting of mask mandates


Public health advocates are calling on hospitals, doctors and other healthcare providers to adopt masking policies as healthcare mask mandates have been lifted with the end of the COVID-19 public health emergency state on Thursday.

Ending masking policies “will put those seeking medical care who are already more vulnerable — people with respiratory illnesses or cancer, people with disabilities, and the elderly — at risk of contracting COVID and other potentially dangerous illnesses. deadly,” said Carlene Pavlos. , executive director of the Massachusetts Public Health Association.

Public health advocates cited the decision by UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester to keep masks in high-risk settings, such as the emergency department and oncology.

Meanwhile, the head of the Massachusetts Medical Society said his doctors support the evidence-based, data-driven decision to lift the national public health emergency.

“We are encouraged by the improved measures around the virus,” Massachusetts Medical Society President Ted Calianos said. “The disease will not be eradicated, but we are much better placed to prevent and control outbreaks.”

“Despite our improving situation, we must remember that COVID-19 is still here and infections can still lead to serious illness and death,” Calianos later added. “We urge everyone in the Commonwealth to stay up to date on vaccinations and to consult their healthcare clinician with any questions about vaccines.”

On Thursday, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health reported 979 cases of the virus over the past week. Last week’s daily average of 140 COVID cases was a slight increase from the daily rate of 128 viral infections in the previous week.

The Bay State’s positive test average has increased over the past week. The seven-day positive test rate is now 2.59%, down from 2.46% last week.

The state Department of Public Health also reported Thursday that a total of 174 patients are hospitalized with COVID, up two patients from this time last week. Tufts Medical Center reported last week that it was not treating any COVID patients for the first time since the pandemic began in March 2020.

The state reported 15 new COVID deaths in the past week, bringing the state’s total to 24,644 recorded deaths since the start of the pandemic. The daily average of deaths is now two.

State health officials recently updated how COVID deaths are counted, limiting COVID-associated deaths to those with COVID listed on the death certificate.

More than 2 million people in the state have received a booster dose since the bivalent vaccine was offered last September.




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