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“I’m still in purgatory.” COVID numbers are increasing in Massachusetts ahead of holidays and winter weather.




How do Massachusetts residents who adhere to public health recommendations more than most other citizens need to react to these new numbers?

“Unfortunately, we’re still in purgatory. Nobody wants to hear it, but we need to double our public health efforts,” said a former Massachusetts Health Commissioner and now a professor at Harvard TH. One Dr. Howard Koh said. Chan School of Public Health.

According to the latest state data, the 7-day average for new COVID cases increased by 78% from November 1st to 2,187 to 2,114. Hospitalization is slowly increasing. It increased by 26% over the same period to 663 on Friday.

Currently, the highest infection rates are in children aged 5-9 years, the group recently targeted for COVID shots. They make up 17% of cases in the last two weeks, but only 5% of the population.

Still, there is one fact that brings hope. According to many public health experts, we are now in a much safer place than a year ago, with vaccines, booster shots, and treatments to stop the virus’s most powerful punches.

National COVID-19 projections, including the widely-supported Institute for Health Metrics model at the University of Washington, show fewer cases, deaths, and hospitalizations in Massachusetts than last winter.

Public health recommendations have been relaxed as more Americans have gained protection against COVID-19. A year ago, the message was clear: stay home to flatten the rise in deadly cases. If you need to go out, wear a mask.Today, medical professionals no longer advise people to seek out and avoid vacation trips and families, but rather Take reasonable precautions, vaccinate, and consider the rates of infection in the communities they may be heading to.

“This is a global public health issue, but it is also a very regional issue, so when people make decisions for themselves and their families, look at local illness levels and vaccination rates. That’s important, “said infectious disease specialist Dr. Helen Boucher. Interim Dean of Tufts University School of Medicine.

Others have suggested using a commercial rapid antigen test to see if they are infected the day before the family gathers.

Samuel Sculpino, Managing Director of Pathogen Surveillance at the Rockefeller Foundation’s Pandemic Prevention Institute, said: “Masking and test hierarchies are essential.”

The latest surge in COVID cases happens just as people wanted to be less alert.

“We’ve been there for so long,” said Robin McNair. Groomer, a fully vaccinated dog in his 50s, when she headed to Gloucester Market Basket last week.

The sign at the entrance of the store required all customers to wear masks. Still, half of the people who ran through the door last Friday morning wore nothing, including McNair.

“That doesn’t mean I don’t think about it,” she said. “I choose not to do that.”

Robin McNair left the Gloucester market basket after shopping maskless, despite a sign urging him to cover his face.
Robin McNair left the Gloucester market basket after shopping maskless, despite a sign urging him to cover his face. “We’ve been in this for long enough,” she said.John Tormacki / Globe Staff

Mask use in Massachusetts is above the national average, but has declined as one of many signs of significant COVID fatigue since last spring. Just before the CDC lifted the recommendation for indoor masks in May, about 88% of state residents reported wearing masks in public almost or always in the last seven days. Survey data From the Carnegie Mellon University and Health Group Consortium. As of mid-November, mask usage was 65%, but the CDC continues to recommend wearing it indoors with high permeability, which applies to almost all of Massachusetts.

Increasingly, public health professionals are adjusting their recommendations to the risk levels they consider to be acceptable to the public.

“We understand what people want to do and how in it Help them do things more safely, “said Dr. Ashish Jha, Dean of the Faculty of Public Health at Brown University.In a recent indoor basketball tournament for his 9-year-old son in Storton, he had hundreds of children and parents, but Jha said he was probably a minority. Only 5 percent Masked person.

Jha is now The initial situation of the HIV crisis 40 years ago.

“The first public health message was that people should be abstinent. Yes, but that’s not what people were willing to do,” Jha said. “Then, part of the message was,” How do you make sex safer? ” I feel the same here. “

A feature of the pandemic is that it sticks to the number of cases per day in particular. That’s because many infected people became seriously ill before the vaccine became available. But vaccination and effective treatments have changed that. Today, most vaccinated people who do not have an underlying health condition generally have mild symptoms when infected, but can still infect others.

Dr. Sandro Galea, Dean of the Department of Public Health, Boston University, said:

“In general, we don’t know if the number of cases is important anymore,” Galea said. “I … I think hospitalization and death are important.”

In the future, a blueprint for living safely with COVID in an increasingly vaccinated world will mean making initially abnormal behavior look normal, former state health commissioner said. Said Kor.

“I had never had a bicycle helmet before, but now it’s normal. It’s the same when seat belts were first introduced,” Ko said. “Can you see when it’s normal to wear a mask in the face of the threat of an infectious disease and is considered non-controversial? I’m sure.”

BU’s Dean, Galea, predicts that society will find a compromise in the mask.

“We get used to it. When people feel a little sick, when they have snuffs, they wear masks when they come to work,” Galea said. “It’s a midpoint where we can see our comfort settle down.”

The feeling of fatigue of masks is increasing, and the feelings of customers in market baskets are mixed. The signboard on the entrance door.
The feeling of fatigue of masks is increasing, and the feelings of customers in market baskets are mixed. The signboard on the entrance door. John Tormacki / Globe Staff

Keirazar can be reached at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @GlobeKayLazar..




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