BPHC Strongly Encourages COVID-19 and Flu Safety Ahead of New Year’s Eve Celebrations 

BOSTON – December 30, 2022 – The Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) strongly encourages everybody to take appropriate precautions to prevent the spread of respiratory viral illness, including COVID-19 and the flu during their New Year’s Eve celebrations and while traveling around the holiday.  

Residents can protect themselves and others by: 

  • Wearing a high-quality, well-fitting mask indoors and on public transportation. 
  • Testing for COVID-19 before and after attending a gathering. 
  • Staying home if you feel sick or test positive for COVID-19 
  • Staying up to date on their COVID-19 vaccinations and boosters.  
  • The omicron-specific bivalent boosters are recommended for everyone ages 6-months and older.  
  • Getting their annual flu shot. 
  • Limiting the size of gatherings and keeping windows or doors open for air circulation and ventilation (if weather permits).  
  • Washing their hands frequently and covering their mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing. 

“We are experiencing a significant increase in viral wastewater concentration and hospitalizations due to COVID-19 along with a continued high number of influenza cases and hospitalizations. We expect this trend to continue through January,” said Dr. Bisola Ojikutu, Commissioner of Public Health and Executive Director of the Boston Public Health Commission. “Our hospitals are already under significant strain. Masking indoors and getting vaccinated are strongly recommended and will protect you from severe illness and support our health care system.” 

Local COVID-19 wastewater concentration has increased significantly after the holidays and is now up to 1,943 particles per mL as of December 27. This is a 61% increase over the past week, and a 78% increase over the past two weeks. 

There were also 296 new COVID-19 related hospitalizations in Boston as of December 29, representing a 23% increase over the past seven days and a 44% increase over the previous 14 days. The total number of patients hospitalized, and new hospital admissions are at the highest values observed since early February 2021. 

While 81% of residents are fully vaccinated, only 13% have received the omicron-specific bivalent booster, meaning many are now vulnerable for a breakthrough infection. The new boosters are essential for maintaining the broadest level of protection against the COVID-19 virus and its variants. BPHC strongly encourages everybody ages 6-months and older to get the bivalent booster as soon as possible to lower their risk of infection and severe illness.  

The city’s flu rate is another area of concern as the holiday season ends. There has been a total of 4,296 confirmed flu cases in Boston since October 1, including 739 from December 17 through December 23. The 2022 flu season has been particularly concerning so far. This year’s peak flu levels came much earlier than normal and were significantly higher than they were in 2021. Estimates from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health indicate that only 38% of Bay State residents have gotten their flu shot this year.  

BPHC has set up several standing clinics offering PCR testing and rapid test kits to take home, COVID-19 vaccines and boosters, and flu shots. All services are free and available to anyone ages 6-months and older with no appointments or IDs necessary. Seventy-five dollar gift cards are being distributed at these sites to anyone who get a COVID-19 vaccine or booster as part of the state’s Vaccine Equity Initiative, while supplies last. Holiday hours of operation are as follows: 

BCYF Hyde Park, 1179 River St., Hyde Park - No closures  

  • Tuesdays 12-8 pm and Thursdays 9 am-5 pm.   

Lena Park Community Development Corporation, 150 American Legion Hwy., Dorchester.   

  • Friday, December 30 – Open 9:30am to 12pm; no PCR testing ahead of the holiday.  
  • Sunday, January 1 – Closed.  
  • Monday, January 2 – Closed.   
  • Regular hours of operation: Sundays 10am-2pm; Mondays 9:30am-5:30 pm; Wednesdays 12-7pm; and Fridays 9:30am-5:30 pm.    

Josephine Fiorentino Community Center, 123 Antwerp St.   

  • Sunday, January 1 – Closed.  
  • Monday, January 2 – Closed.  
  • Regular hours of operation: Sundays 12-4pm; Mondays through Wednesdays 9am-3pm; and Thursdays 5-9pm.    

Bruce C. Bolling Building, 2302 Washington St., Roxbury.    

  • Friday, December 30 – Open 12-8pm; no PCR testing ahead of the holiday.  
  • Saturday, December 31 – Closed.    
  • Regular hours of operation: Tuesdays-Saturdays 12-8pm. 

Boston City Hall, 1 City Hall Sq., Boston.   

  • Monday, January 2 – Closed.   
  • Regular hours of operation: Mondays 7am-1pm and Wednesdays 12-5pm.    

For more information about COVID-19, visit boston.gov/covid19.  

 

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