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Walsh: COVID-19 positivity rate dropping in Boston but hospitalizations remain very high

BOSTON (WHDH) – Mayor Martin J. Walsh on Friday said Boston has seen its average COVID-19 positivity rate drop in “almost every single neighborhood” in recent days, but daily case numbers and hospitalizations still remain a concern.

“We’ve seen positive rates go down in almost every single neighborhood, which is encouraging to see,” Walsh said during a news conference. “We’re seeing improvements in our numbers as they stabilize.”

For the week ending Jan. 14, the average positivity rate in the city was at 7.5 percent, according to Walsh. That number is down from the prior week’s mark of 8.7 percent.

The average number of newly reported cases each day has also dropped from 544.3 to 447.9 but 99 percent of non-surge ICU beds at city hospitals remain occupied, Walsh added.

“Our case numbers are still concerning and our hospitalizations are certainly higher than we would like them to be,” Walsh said. “This is the highest we’ve seen in a long time when it comes to hospital capacity.”

Walsh noted that hospitals have the ability to add surge beds if necessary and that city officials have remained in constant contact with health care providers.

Walsh did mention that new COVID hospital admissions are “slightly down” from the previous week.

A recent Boston resident who tested positive for the coronavirus variant had traveled internationally, Walsh said, as he warned residents to remain vigilant due to the highly contagious nature of the mutated strain.

“There is no evidence that it causes more severe illness or increased risk of death,” Walsh said. “It can spread more easier and quickly…A high transmission rate will lead to more cases and potentially burden our health care system… We all need to continue to double down on the precautions we are taking.”

Walsh also announced that Boston is working with the state on an equitable vaccine distribution plan and he urged residents to check the latest vaccination schedule.

He also confirmed that Fenway Park will indeed become the state’s second mass vaccination site and open on Feb. 1.

Boston will also be lifting its 9:30 p.m. curfew on businesses next week, following Gov. Charlie Baker’s decision to ease some pandemic restrictions, but Walsh said the city will remain in the second step of phase two of the state’s reopening plan.

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