Mayor Walsh said today that "we are very close into moving into the red category on the map," possibly within the next few days because Boston is now approaching a Covid-19 infection rate of 8 new cases per 100,000 each day, the threshold set by the state to label a city as high risk.
Because of that, Walsh said Boston will continue to insist that restaurants seat no more than six people at a table, rather than follow new state guidelines that allow up to ten people to gather around one. At a City Hall press conference, Walsh said Boston will let restaurants begin to serve food to patrons at bars.
Walsh added the city has seen an uptick in the number of people hospitalized with Covid-19.
Walsh and Health and Human Services Chief Marty Martinez said the city will be ramping up testing and educational efforts in several neighborhoods with high positive results in testing - East Boston, where about 6% of test results are positive, although that's down from above 11% a few weeks ago; Dorchester, where the rate is around 5% and Roslindale and Hyde Park, where a little over 4% of the tests come back positive. The city as a whole is showing a positive-test rate of 2.7%, which Martinez said is still low - although it is higher than the statewide average of 0.8%.
"We're not going to set a panic off right now with the numbers," and the city is nowhere near an increase that would make Walsh consider rolling back any of the re-opening efforts of the last few months. He said he would only start thinking about something like that should the test positivity rate begin to approach 9 or 10%.
Instead, Walsh said residents can help keep the numbers low by continuing to socially distance, wear masks outdoor, stay away from large gatherings, especially indoors and wash their hands and surfaces frequently.
Martinez said college students have been responsible for a part of the increase in numbers, But with few college students living in East Boston and Roslindale he and Walsh also pointed to permanent residents getting out more in the warm weather and congregating. Martinez praised local colleges for doing a lot of testing, which lets officials track people who might have been exposed and get them to quarantine for two weeks.
Walsh said young people in particular have a role to play - to use their social networks to get their friends to follow the same precautions as older residents.