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Boston to lift most indoor mask requirements on Saturday; ban on evictions to end March 31

Child vaccination rates in Boston: Less than 40% under age 12

Why BPS isn't lifting its mask requirement just yet.

Boston will lift its indoor mask requirement in most public spaces effective Saturday, because Covid-19 rates have dropped significantly, Dr. Bisola Ojikutu, the executive director of the Boston Public Health Commission said today.

This includes restaurants, bars, gyms, museums and entertainment venues. Business owners have the right to continue to require masks.

Masks will still be required on public transit and in health-care, shelter and congregate-care facilities, Ojikutu told the Boston Board of Health this afternoon.

She formally announced the lifting after the board voted unanimously to support the idea.

Ojikutu said she based her order on continuing good Covid-19 numbers: The city test positivity rate is now at 2.5%, down from 32% at the peak of the omicron surge. City hospitalization and ICU rates are also below city thresholds, she said: There are currently about 187 Bostonians hospitalized with Covid-19 and ICU occupancy at Boston's nine hospitals is 87% - compared to the city thresholds of 200 hospitalized patients and an ICU occupancy rate of 95%.

The lifting does not apply to BPS schools. Dr. Sarimer Sanchez of the BPHC, said BPS will continue for now to require masks for students, in part because of low vaccination rates among younger children, but will be restoring certain activities that had been rescinded as high risk, including full athletics and field trips.

Also announced today: Boston will lift its ban on evictions on March 31. The ban was initially imposed to protect people who could not make their rent due to pandemic-related job losses.

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Comments

so unvaccinated can also be unmasked? great

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I’m always behind science and not just do this because I said so so I’m happy to see this happening now that cases are way down. Fingers crossed we don’t fall back into what appears to be a vicious cycle.

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Science actually shows us that every time we’ve walked back restrictions on masking, COVID surges again…then we scramble to put restrictions back in place and stand up testing sites once the hospitals are full. Ground hog day. Unnecessary stress on the hospitals and few remaining health care workers. Unnecessary deaths. And ultimately, we’re wearing masks much longer than if we had stayed the course.

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The reasoning is because of low vaccination rates among young children.

Have the parents of these young children not been able to find a site with available vaccination appointments?

Or do the parents not want to vaccinate their young children against a disease that has been scientifically proven to have a less negative impact on children than older populations?

Also- the CDC has recognized natural immunity. Why did our public health leaders not recognize public immunity? Do they have different scientific data than the CDC? Or is this a political stunt?

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Thanks, Danny Downer….

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...you don't like reality.

(eta: I don't much like it either fwiw, but I also don't like sticking my head in the sand)

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Official statement here. Masks will still be required in Cambridge municipal buildings until at least March 27.

Somerville's Board of Health is meeting online this Thursday evening to discuss the city's mask mandate. I expect they will want to follow Boston's and Cambridge's example.

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Is there any data and conclusions from virus experts as to why the Covid virus, as powerful as it is to have caused so many deaths, is dying out, yet the influenza virus still has outlived it to this day throughout my lifetime? I am reluctant to not wear mask 100%, am fully vaxed, including flu shot every year for the past 10 years, yet am skeptical. Help me relax.

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Influenza is a ton of strains of a virus, not just one. With all the lockdowns over the 2020-2021 flu season, plus a jump in people actually getting their flu shot, three whole types of flu actually DID die off and were eliminated.

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Log out of social media. You will be much more relaxed.

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Lifting the mask mandate(s) at this time, when there are other variants of Covid-19 going around, and the fact that there are so many adolescents, young adults, and even older people who refuse to get vaccinated, and therefore endanger not only themselves, but other people as well, is a dangerously bad idea.

Had the Covid-19 vaccines been made mandatory for everybody who was able to get them, we would've been back to normal quite some time ago, but no....the conspiracy theorists and the anti-vaxxers had to manipulate gullible, stupid, and/or vicious people into believing their dangerous bullshit and putting everybody else at risk. The anti-vaxxers and the conspiracy theorists must be stopped before more people die or are permanently sickened as a result.

Younger children and adults have also been permanently sickened, and/or have died from Covid-19 itself. The mask mandate should stay in place for awhile.

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Prove them. Omicron spread like wildfire throughout Boston and our vaccination rate was very high so saying if everyone got vaccinated we’d be over this is just false. The vaccine efficacy wanes and boosters wane.

CDC is recommending removing masks indoors. Are you suggesting Boston should ignore science?

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Evidence-based health and public health decisions are the ones that should be followed.

The changes in guidance that the CDC released on Friday (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/your-health/covid-by-county.html) are a significant change, and a dramatic shift for some. Unless you can refute the assertion that they are evidence-based, or provide credible evidence in contradiction of these changes, I don't see how one could make a sound argument against the decision the city has now made.

This is not the end of this virus, and we may need to adjust again in the future, but doing something because it feels like it is the right thing to do at the moment, in contradiction to what evidence-based guidance supports is not going to lead to good public health policy. When sound public health guidance was made that was restrictive in how we should go about life, I supported it; when sound public health guidance becomes less restrictive, I'll support that too.

If the conditions change, and we need to return to wearing masks for a period of time, I will fully support that, but those are not the conditions we are facing right now.

And we know that high quality masks (which are really regulated respirators) can protect an individual if used properly, even in a sea of virus with no one else wearing a mask. These are available to the general public. I respect the decision of anyone to voluntarily wear such a mask to protect themself.

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And we know that high quality masks (which are really regulated respirators) can protect an individual if used properly, even in a sea of virus with no one else wearing a mask.

So those who are at risk of a bad outcome have to mask up to survive the "sea of virus with no one else wearing a mask", and no one else feels any obligation to wear a mask to protect them?

I get that there isn't some magic way of knowing when things are safe, but the situation of vulnerable people is being swept under the rug, and the only "solution", so called, is...

I respect the decision of anyone to voluntarily wear such a mask to protect themself.

That's mighty big of you.

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You want healthy people to wear masks and people at high risk to not wear masks? If someone is high risk and wearing a mask, why does it matter if I’m wearing one or not?

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healthy people

Are you somehow under the impression that those you call "healthy people" are unable to catch and spread covid?

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Are you against science now that they’re calling for removing masks?

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...about you spraying covids from your maskless face.

Look, "science" is only saying that what you call "healthy" people are fairly safe and will not be at significant risk of getting an infection that leaves them severely ill if they go without masks in many situations. It does not say that they cannot get and spread covid, and the more of them that do so, the more others are at risk. It's really pretty simple.

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So you don’t believe in science. Got it, and noted.

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So you don’t believe in science. Got it, and noted.

You are exactly like the Qbots who say they've done "research" by googling some qonspiracy websites. Show me your "science", bud. Show me your "science" and I'll tell you if I "believe" it or not.

Nice choice of words btw. Science is not a faith-based matter.

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https://www.cdc.gov/

I’m a bot? You don’t even live in Boston. Not even in a surrounding town. Why are you here?

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Here’s a link, pal

Oh that's useful. "Pal".

You don’t even live in Boston.

I work here. Who made you the boss of this site, noob?

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Everything I said is a paraphrase of the latest guidance from the CDC. I am not an expert, but they are, so I'll defer to our national public health experts on this stuff. This is what they think is the correct path forward, do you think they've got it wrong and why?

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When they make recommendations that match how I feel, it's because they're using good science. When they make an advisory that I don't like it's because of bad political pressure.

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Everything I said is a paraphrase of the latest guidance from the CDC.

Really? You linked to an article citing "the changes in guidance", but there was no such guidance in the linked-to article. It's just a community-level map where low/medium/high are determined from a composite of factors; the calculus is completely absent, as is any "guidance".

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Did you miss the section with the header "What Prevention Steps Should You Take Based on Your COVID-19 Community Level?"

The page is loaded with hyperlinks to the pages with more detailed info on the general statements shown on that page.

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The page is loaded with hyperlinks to the pages with more detailed info on the general statements shown on that page.

I saw them. The links, to put it bluntly, suck. Case in point: one bullet point under "Medium" states "If you are at high risk for severe illness, talk to your healthcare provider about whether you need to wear a mask and take other precautions." The page to which it links says a lot more than that, including "If you have household or social contact with someone at high risk for severe disease - consider self-testing to detect infection before contact -consider wearing a mask when indoors with them" and "Maintain improved ventilation throughout indoor spaces when possible". Nowhere on the page you linked to is there any suggestion that people who are not "at high risk for severe illness" have any responsibility to act to mitigate the danger to others. Do you really think the average jamoke who just wants to rip off his mask is going to click that link to find out if maybe, just perhaps, there's something he ought to do to help keep others safe?

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If you want more information, that's fair, but I certainly can't cull through every single piece of information the CDC has written and made available to answer your every concern.

If you have the time, when the CDC announced these changes on Friday, they held a press telebriefing and answered a number of detailed questions: https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2022/t0225-covid-19-update.html

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Take a look at the universities in Boston. Northeastern had a vaccine mandate in the fall and a booster mandate in the spring. Over 99% compliance. Still around 150 cases a day on campus. The vaccine is great at keeping you healthy, it's not so great at stopping spread.

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How long does it need to stay in place then? It's been 2 years, the vaccines are readily available, cases are way down and people have had ample opportunities to do what they need to do to stay safe. The positivity level is less than 3%.... If you want to continue wearing a mask, go right ahead. But stop acting like we need to keep doing this forever. The CDC has even said themselves that cloth masks aren't effective. It's well known that vaccines don't completely stop infection and the virus is here to stay with us. It's never going away.... please grasp that concept. I for one, refuse to live in fear anymore. We have reached a point where people should be able to make their own choices about what's best for their health. You sound overly cautious.

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Or we could not, which I guess means we are still where we are, just in reverse.

No one will keep you from wearing a mask. Myself, I'm going to listen to the scientists from the CDC and watch the numbers, keeping a mask close at hand.

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I'm going to listen to the scientists from the CDC

When they said what, exactly?

I'm undecided, myself -- mostly because it isn't very clear what the "advice" is. Don't get me wrong, I want to go to a movie theater as much as anyone else. But it seems like whenever anyone is talking about this "advice" and you ask them for details of what the advice is, they degenerate into mumbles. What specific advice are you listening to?

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And look, I get that people are going to be skittish about things. Mplo is definitely the kind of person who probably has barely left her house for the past 2 years. But at the end of the day, the CDC has provided guidance, based on scientific study of the virus over the course of the pandemic. No longer are they saying that we should be wearing masks outside, for example. We are at the end of a spike due to a variant, and we are at the end of "cold and flu" season, so people should be more confident going about their lives, unless they have health concerns that may mean more measures. The reality is that infectious disease folk pivoted to the idea that wearing an N95 mask will help keep people from getting the virus, and coupled with vaccine availability and the rise of new treatments, by and large we should be okay.

We cannot live in fear of Covid forever. This is not to say that a healthy respect for the virus is not warranted, but expecting zero new infections is not reasonable. So long as the public health folk are on top of this, we can just listen to them.

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