As state drops even recommendation to mask, Cambridge notes its still-high Covid case rate
Cambridge won’t go along with the state’s recent decision to drop an indoor masking recommendation. Instead, the city will continue urging residents to wear a face covering when inside public spaces, “for the time being,” a spokesperson said Tuesday.
Dawn Baxter, spokesperson for the Cambridge Public Health Department, said that while “we are encouraged to see downward trends in Covid-19 cases,” the case rate in Cambridge for the week ended June 11 stood at 386 cases per 100,000 residents. That is well above one of the federal markers for high transmission: 200 cases per 100,000 residents.
The city and Middlesex County remain in the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s high transmission category. The CDC advises people living in high-transmission counties to mask indoors and take other precautions. Despite that recommendation, on Friday the state Department of Public Health said it was no longer advising most people to mask up in indoor spaces effective July 1, whether or not they are vaccinated.
The state agency cited the vaccination rate in Massachusetts and the availability of effective treatment for Covid-19. People at increased risk from Covid, including because of their age, should continue to wear face coverings inside, the state said. Still, it dropped a masking requirement for nursing home residents, also effective July 1. Masks will remain required for nursing home workers and for patients and staff in other health care facilities.
In Cambridge, Baxter said, “we remind residents that Covid is still present in the community and that taking precautions such as masking, particularly for individuals who are at higher risk for serious illness, is still a prudent public health practice.”
City figures show the case rate has declined since early May for the Cambridge population as a whole. In schools, though, infections surged in May, reaching a level that exceeded the January omicron peak for school cases, according to data reported by the Cambridge Public Schools. Schools made masks optional starting March 14. Cases began rising in April.