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BPHC Urges Caution As COVID-19 Spikes in Local Wastewater

Residents should get vaccinated and boosted, and mask indoors to reduce risk.

The Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) is urging residents to take proper precautions against COVID-19 amid a significant spike in COVID-19 virus particles in local wastewater that suggests higher levels of community spread. Boston has not experienced levels this high since May. 

The concentration of COVID-19 RNA copies in local wastewater rose to 1,016 copies per mL over the past week, a 104.5% increase over the past 7 days. Boston’s COVID-19 metrics have risen steadily over the past few weeks as people began to spend more time indoors and students, including college students, returned to school.  Boston will likely see similarly elevated rates of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in the coming weeks, data which often lags behind wastewater.  

“This spike in our wastewater concentration is of great concern and another reminder that the pandemic is far from over,” said Dr. Bisola Ojikutu, Commissioner of Public Health and Executive Director of the Boston Public Health Commission, “The key to protecting ourselves remains the same, and these tools are particularly important given this current trend: get vaccinated, get boosted, and wear masks indoors. By protecting ourselves now, we can reduce the risk of infection as we spend more time indoors in the fall and winter.” 

COVID-19 vaccines and boosters are free and readily available to the public. This Saturday, BPHC is hosting a free, family-friendly COVID-19 vaccination and booster clinic at White Stadium in Franklin Park from 10am to 5pm. $75 gift cards will be given out to those ages 18 and under who get vaccinated or boosted, as well as one caregiver who accompanies them and gets vaccinated or boosted, while supplies last. Walk-ins are welcome, but pre-registration is strongly encouraged. Appointments for this Saturday’s clinic can be made by visiting For additional information on COVID-19 testing and vaccination resources in Boston, go to

Based on the current trends, BPHC continues to recommend masking indoors to lower the risk of COVID-19. With flu season on the horizon, taking proper mitigation and prevention measures to avoid severe infection can reduce the strain on our health care system, especially our emergency care infrastructure. BPHC recommends that all residents:  

  • Stay up to date on COVID-19 vaccinations to reduce risk of severe illness. Eligible individuals will receive the new bivalent omicron-specific booster.  

    • COVID-19 vaccines are recommended for everyone ages 6 months and older.  

    • Booster doses are recommended for everyone ages 5 years and older. 

    • Bivalent boosters that provide broad protection against earlier COVID-19 strains, as well as the Omicron variant, are recommended for everyone 12 and up who completed a primary series with one of the approved COVID-19 vaccines once it has been at least two months since their last primary series or booster dose.  

  • Get your annual flu vaccination.  

    • Flu shots are free and widely available in Boston, regardless of insurance status.  

  • Test for COVID-19 before and after attending large gatherings, especially if you know you will be around high-risk individuals, such as seniors, those who are immunocompromised, and those who are unvaccinated.  

  • BPHC recommends wearing a mask while indoors. Masking is especially important for those who are at higher risk for severe illness, such as people who are not fully vaccinated, seniors, and those who are immunocompromised. 

  • Stay home and isolate if you are sick or test positive for COVID-19. If you test positive, contact a health care provider about treatments, which are available as oral antivirals or monoclonal antibody therapy. 

    • The Massachusetts Department of Public Health is offering free telehealth visits for Paxlovid, an oral antiviral that has been proven to reduce the risk of hospitalization and death from COVID-19 significantly. For more information, visit their website.  

  • Gather outside and choose outdoor activities as often as possible.  

    • Open windows and doors to ensure good indoor ventilation.

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