Framingham’s rate of daily known new Covid-19 cases dropped for the 4th consecutive week this week, according to data released today by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. And, test positivity in the city was below the WHO-recommended 5% level for the first time since mid-December.
If these trends continue for at least two more weeks – that is, even after next week’s school vacation week when many people will likely be traveling, face increased Covid exposure, and then return home – it will be very encouraging. A number of experts had predicted end-of-February improvement for the US as a whole during the height of the Omicron surge.
Framingham had an average of 32.9 known new cases per day in the most recent 14-day period, according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. However, those numbers don’t include people whose infections are found via at-home antigen tests.
PCR test positivity was 4.53%, down sharply from 7.79% last week.
Why the drop in infections? Researchers don’t fully understand the science of Omicron’s specific trajectories, but epidemiologist Maria Pyra at the University of Chicago noted that human behavior is responsible for many such changes.
“I think there’s a fundamental misunderstanding in much of the public about surges,” she wrote. “They seem like the tides, rising and falling on their own. So, the thinking goes, protect yourself when it’s high and then take everything off as soon as it’s going down.
“The missing public health perspective is that our behaviors (interacting with the virus) causes these surges. So putting protections in place early can reduce surges. And keeping those protections in place can drive surges down faster and lower.”
There will be a special meeting of the Framingham Board of Health Tuesday, February 22 at 7 p.m. to discuss the possibility of rescinding both mask requirements in city buildings and in all indoor public spaces.
Number of tests administered to city residents dropped 14% vs the prior week’s period, according to Mass DPH data, while number of cases discovered dropped 58%.
Although it feels much safer now than a month ago for many of us, Pulitzer Prize winner Ed Yong recently wrote about the plight of one group who can’t share that feeling: the immunocompromised. If you are interested in the issue of creating public spaces that are safe for the more vulnerable among us, “The Millions of People Stuck in Pandemic Limbo” is an excellent read.
39.4% of city residents have received “booster” shots, considered critical for fending off the Omicron variant. 77.5% are at least fully vaccinated while 90.8% have received at least one dose.
MWRA Wastewater Samples
Covid-19 traces in MWRA wastewater – considered a good predictor of case trends (as opposed to reflecting current infection rates) – continued to drop. Graph is below. Framingham is part of MWRA’s South region. (You can click the legend to turn lines off and on as well as click and drag to zoom in on a portion of the graph.)