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Boston lists criteria for easing vaccination requirement for indoor spaces; says we're not there yet

Mayor Wu today set up the criteria the city will use to end the current requirement that patrons and visitors to public indoor spaces, such as restaurants and gyms, have to show proof of Covid-19 vaccination:

  • Fewer than 95% of ICU beds are occupied
  • Fewer than 200 COVID-19 hospitalizations per day
  • A community positivity rate below 5%, as defined by the Boston Public Health Commission’s 7-day moving average

WBZ reports that as of today, Boston's community positivity rate is 7.4% and that there are 387 people in Boston hospital beds with Covid-19.

The announcement comes as Worcester is getting ready to lift its mask mandate and Northeastern University is lifting its ban on non-student visitors to dorms - although guests will still have to show proof of vaccination.

In a statement, Wu acknowledged rapidly declining Covid-19 rates of late, said they're proof restrictions and vaccinations are working, but cautioned we need to see more of a decline in numbers. She did not mention masks.

I’m encouraged by the current trends and grateful to the Boston Public Health Commission and all our partners for strong leadership to keep us heading in the right direction. The fastest way to help ensure we are relieving pressure on hospital capacity and driving down community positivity is to keep closing gaps with vaccination and boosters.

On Wednesday, the City Council will consider a request by Councilor Frank Baker (Dorchester) for a formal hearing on whether the city is going too far with its restrictions.

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Comments

the thing is, in reality nobody is enforcing these guidelines. they either don't check at all, or there is a staff person who glances at your outstretched palm with vax record, and it could be a kids drawing of a dinosaur and they'd wave you right through.

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Good news: We're way, way lower than just a few weeks ago. Back to where we were for most of the fall pre-Omicron. All the bad numbers (hospitalization, cases, deaths) are down and falling.

Bad news: If you squint it looks like the numbers are now leveling off, not falling back to the summer levels, at least not yet.

In short, the endless debates and arguing will continue to be endless. Whatever policy you think is correct, there's some data to support it and other data to refute it.

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Given that our vaccination rate hasn't changed much since before the O wave, it is safe to assume that lower case counts have nothing to do with the BPHC or somesuch partners.

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why are we discussing ending indoor vaccine requirements and not discussing ending indoor masking requirements? I'm really confused. no metrics have been proposed for masks? I'm vaccinated and boosted, and showing proof when I go in somewhere is a lot annoying than remembering to put my mask on when I get up from a restaurant table to go to the bathroom, make sure all my kids have a mask, and an extra mask in case they drop theirs in a puddle as soon as we leave a restaurant, etc. etc.

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Just how many kids you need to remember about?

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You must always remember all of the kids.

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All my kids would imply more than one. They could have two children or a child and two baby goats. When you watch children additional children are not always an additive situation. Sometimes they are a to the power of or multiplication. Each additional child in a restaurant with masks on after lots of isolation seems like more than just one more kid.

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the moderately lower (to winter 2021) death rate, and the vastly lower ratio of cases to hospitalization and death versus winter 2021, though…

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Dated January 18, 2022:

Wu, in an appearance on WGBH’s Boston Public Radio show, said that since last Monday more than 1,000 additional city workers have been vaccinated and Boston’s overall vaccination rate has increased 36 percent in the last week.

https://whdh.com/news/wu-boston-vaccination-rate-up-36-percent-in-a-week/

Either the vaccination rate in the city HAS increased significantly in the period you claim it did not change, or the mayor is not telling the truth. I know who Mayor Michelle Wu is, I don't know who you are, so if you have any evidence to refute the claim made by the mayor, there's no better place than here to lay it out.

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It's one of those signature little white lies by Mayor Wu. To see what actually happened you need to look at the original source of that 36 number, which is Jan 11 vaccine report from:

https://bphc.org/whatwedo/infectious-diseases/Infectious-Diseases-A-to-Z...

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data!

I see that's a weekly change rate.

When do you want to define the start of the omicron wave here? For the sake of argument, we have to pick something, I'll just go with mid-December because the MWRA chart clearly shows a sharp increase, after an immediately prior bump and drop (https://www.mwra.com/biobot/biobotdata.htm)

So mid-December, 12/17 report, also just a few days before the indoor vaccine mandate was announced.

At least 1 dose: 78.8% of Boston total population
Fully vaccinated: 68.4% of Boston total population

And the latest report to come out, February 3rd
At least 1 dose: 84.1% of Boston total population (now also listing % of the currently age-eligible population 88.6%)
Fully vaccinated 70.9% of Boston (74.7% of age-eligible)

78.8% to 84.1% at least 1 dose, 68.4% to 70.9% fully vaccinated.

Naturally those who just got their first dose in these reporting periods will not be able to go back for their 2nd without waiting either 3 or 4 weeks depending on which vaccine they received.

Is 2-5% of the population statistically insignificant? As you had claimed above:

Given that our vaccination rate hasn't changed much since before the O wave, it is safe to assume that lower case counts have nothing to do with the BPHC or somesuch partners.

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So not 36% in one week as Wu claimed?

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So we would have to go back to the source of that line. Why don't you go listen and create a written transcript for me to save us some time.

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Most likely the BPHC fed it to the mayor who repeated it. But it doesn't even matter what the exact line was. That 36% number is meaningless noise, and stood at negative 12% in the most recent report.

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Data! Who needs it? Troll’s gonna troll, and NotFromBoston is nothing more than a troll.

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Whose vaccination rate you talking about, chief?

You clearly are unfamiliar with the area's weather and mayor among other things, so why don't you stop cos-playing like you live here?

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Grownups are talking.

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Maybe I missed it - will there be a distinction made between individuals hospitalized because of COVID or individuals that are hospitalized for an unrelated condition and test positive during the admissions process?

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If we don’t delineate between the two, we might never hit that number.

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Probably--the state is now making that distinction in its published data.

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https://www.mass.gov/info-details/covid-19-response-reporting

Go to the Hospitalizations option then scroll down to the Incidental COVID-19 report.

Today’s result: 47% hospitalized for Covid, 53% hospitalized for something else and also tested positive for Covid. There’s been a very slight uptick recently in the incidental percentage.

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The slight uptick comes as the overall trend of hospitalizations has been downward, so this is probably mostly noise in the data. If it were to get to 60-40 or something then it would be more interesting.

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Fewer than 95% of ICU beds are occupied

Is that just Boston hospitals or all hospitals in the state, all hospitals in country? Just Boston residents? Massachusetts residents? How does this number relate to any staffing shortages there may be at any given hospital? If a hospital has to cut the number of ICU beds because there's not enough staff to cover (say cutting ICU beds from 30 to 10 due to staffing levels) will that be taken into account?

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This isn't Worcester, where an entire hospital was knocked out by a strike.

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That seems like a high number to consider acceptable.

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People are speaking about data. I figure this group may not know about the reddit user "oldgrimalkin" who has diligently been posting summary data every week on the Boston subreddit (earlier in the pandemic it was daily). For those of us looking for the latest information, it's been immeasurably helpful. Most Boston Redditors put oldgrimalkin up there with Papi and a few others who should never have to pay for a beer in a bar in the city if we know they're there at the same time as us.

You can find their posts here:
https://www.reddit.com/user/oldgrimalkin/posts/

And the most recent data is here:
https://www.reddit.com/r/boston/comments/sj2yb9/ma_covid19_data_2222/

I should also point out that they update on Wednesdays (today) so there'll be a post in a little while with data including the past week.

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I may or may not agree with their specific choices, but having the policy changes be contingent on predefined thresholds is a great choice.

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