Slight Increase in COVID-19 Levels Detected in Boston-Area Wastewater

“The holiday season will continue to present a challenge due to respiratory viruses like COVID-19, the flu, and RSV,” stated Dr. Bisola Ojikutu, Boston’s public health commissioner. “To ensure residents’ safety and health, we are distributing test kits and other essential resources.”

By analyzing the number of SARS-CoV-2 RNA copies per milliliter of wastewater, officials can track the virus’s prevalence in a community. In the southern section of the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority, the seven-day average was 596 copies per milliliter on Nov. 16, up from 360 on Nov. 9. For the MWRA’s northern section, the count reached 433, up from 263.
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Free at-home COVID-19 test kits are available to every U.S. household at

Health commission officials advise residents to maintain a stock of test kits and test before attending gatherings if feeling unwell. They also emphasize the importance of receiving the latest vaccine shot.

Getting updated on COVID-19, RSV, and flu vaccines is crucial in reducing the risk of severe illness and hospitalization. This becomes particularly important during the holiday season when the risk of getting sick and transmitting illnesses is higher.

Epidemiologist Bill Hanage from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health emphasized the recent spike in COVID-19 infections.

Hanage further explained that spikes in wastewater and cases are expected after Thanksgiving, underscoring the continued risk to older people. He also encouraged the use of rapid antigen tests if feeling unwell and shared details of vaccination locations.

COVID-19 and flu vaccines are available at specific locations in Boston, with walk-ins welcome and no proof of insurance required.

Travis Andersen of the Globe Staff contributed to this report.

Emily Sweeney can be reached at @emilysweeney and on Instagram @emilysweeney22.


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