COVID-19 Updates for East Boston

Since the city ramped up COVID-19 testing last week, the number of those infected with the COVID-19 virus in East Boston has become more clear.

Since last week 1,171 residents in Eastie have been tested and 46.8 percent of those tested have found to be COVID-19 positive.

Eastie was found to have the highest percentage of COVID-19 positive cases among those tested followed by Mattapan, Dorchester, Roxbury, Hyde Park, Roslindale, West Roxbury and Jamaica Plain.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began to hit Eastie hard in mid-March the numbers of those with COVID-19 and the neighborhood’s infection rate continues to rise.

In one week East Boston’s COVID-19 infection rate rose from 87.4 cases per 10,000 residents to an alarming infection rate of 146.6 cases per 10,000 residents as of Friday.

As of Friday there were 688 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Eastie, up from the 410 cases reported by the Boston Public Health Commission a week ago.

The stats released by the BPHC as part of its weekly COVID-19 report breaks down the number of cases and infection rates in each neighborhood. It also breaks down the number of cases by age, gender and race.

Because the neighborhood remains a COVID-19 ‘hotspot’, Mayor Martin Walsh announced that residents from Eastie, and other neighborhood ‘hotspots’, who do not have symptoms will be tested for COVID-19 antibodies in order to evaluate community exposure as part of a Mass General Hospital study. The study will focus on residents living in Eastie and Roslindale neighborhoods, as well as those who live within the boundaries of zip codes 02121 and 02125 in Dorchester.

Walsh and BPHC said the randomized antibody testing is critical because the U.S. Centers for Disease Control estimates that, nationally, 25 percent of people infected with COVID-19 are asymptomatic and may not know they are a carrier of the coronavirus.

“We are at war with COVID-19, and overcoming this viral enemy demands knowledge, strategy and intelligence gathering,” Dr. Peter Slavin, president of MGH. “A growing body of evidence suggests that many people who have been infected with COVID-19 are asymptomatic, but we don’t yet know how prevalent the disease is in our city, in our communities and in our society. Data from this testing in Boston will provide vital clues into the spread of the virus and will help us develop strategies to slow down or stop this invisible foe.”

Walsh said it is his Administration’s hope that by conducting this testing healthcare professionals will get a better understanding of the true prevalence of COVID-19 in our community.

“The more we can expand our testing, the more we can learn how to use our medical resources more efficiently, and how we need to focus our current efforts to contain the virus,” said Walsh.

City Councilor Lydia Edwards, whose district includes East Boston, said she hopes the study will help head off a second wave of infections.

She said the results could “enhance the awareness that we need in all our communities: You are spreading this disease even if you don’t have any symptoms.”

“This study is an important step in our fight against Covid-19, but we have to continue following the social distancing guidelines,” said Edwards. “We don’t know yet whether antibodies will prevent a second infection and have to continue minimizing our exposure to the virus.”

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