For the last three weeks East Boston has had the highest COVID-19 infection rate, and the highest percentage of residents testing positive for the virus leaving officials scrambling to get control of a public health emergency in the neighborhood.
Last week, Mayor Martin Walsh said the numbers in the neighborhood are alarming because every neighborhood except Eastie has a positive test rate at or below 3.9 percent. Eastie is off the charts with a positive test rate of nearly 11 percent last week.
In response Mayor Walsh said city officials moved its mobile testing team to Eastie on Tuesday. This is in addition to the testing site at the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center, which will continue to offer tests to anyone who wants one, regardless of symptoms, and at no cost.
The infection rate has been steadily climbing since late July. The week over week infection rate rose by only 1.7 percent in early August but then jumped by 3.6 percent three weeks ago but jumped again by 5.5 percent the following week.
According to the latest data released by the Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) on Friday Eastie’s COVID infection rate rose nearly seven percent and went from 419.8 cases per 10,000 residents to 448.6 cases per 10,000 residents. The citywide average is 226.3 cases per 10,000 residents, an increase of 2.2 percent from the 221 cases per 10,000 resident averages reported last week.
As of Friday 135 more people became infected with the virus in Eastie and there were 2,105 confirmed COVID-19 cases. This was a 6.8 percent increase from the 1,970 cases reported by the BPHC two weeks ago.
As of Last week the BPHC reported that 12,737 residents were tested for COVID-19 and the data shows that 10.8 percent of those tested were COVID positive–down slightly from the 11.4 percent reported two weeks ago. However, Dorchester has the second highest percentage of residents testing positive for COVID at only 3.9 percent and the citywide average is 2.3 percent.
Overall since the pandemic began 17.2 percent of Eastie’s population tested was found to be positive.
The city’s COVID mobile testing site, in partnership with the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center (EBNHC), will now be offering COVID-19 testing in East Boston’s Central Square. This COVID-19 testing initiative will be available until Saturday, September 12 on Border Street at Liberty Plaza Shopping Center in East Boston. Testing will be available at no cost for both symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals. No appointment is needed but registration is required. To pre-register, please call 617-568-4500.
“Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have been dedicated to monitoring and making decisions based on the latest COVID-19 data. With the increase in cases in East Boston, we are expanding testing access there to ensure that all residents can get tested,” said Walsh. “Thank you to the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center for your continued partnership in helping Bostonians stay safe and healthy.”
Walsh announced this mobile site testing initiative back in May as a way to help fill any gaps in testing availability, prioritizing neighborhoods and populations that need dedicated testing efforts to create equitable access to testing.
“East Boston has seen an alarming rise in COVID-19 rates and it’s critical that we take immediate actions to stop the spread of the virus,” said EBNHC president and CEO Manny Lopes. “Testing is one of the most important infectious disease control tools in our arsenal and we are glad to be partnering with the City of Boston to provide pop-up testing sites throughout the city.”
The statistics released by the BPHC as part of its weekly COVID19 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.
Citywide positive cases of coronavirus rose 2.2 percent last week from 15,232 cases to 15,573 cases. So far 11,872 Boston residents have fully recovered from the virus and five additional residents died last week bringing the total of fatalities in the city to 753.