Friday, June 14, 2024

A sign at the Cambridge Main Library promotes Covid tests on March 29. (Photo: Marc Levy)

The number of Covid-19 cases in Cambridge is increasing, in line with state and national trends, and the city’s health department is urging residents to return to previous precautions to prevent spreading and catching the virus. Hospitalizations and levels of Covid in sewage from a Massachusetts Water Resources Authority service area that includes Cambridge have risen, health department spokesperson Dawn Baxter said Wednesday.

Baxter confirmed that “we have seen clusters [of Covid cases] in local nursing homes and an increase in reported cases.” Federal and state reports from last month showed infections in Cambridge Rehabilitation & Nursing Center and in Sancta Maria Nursing Facility. Two local assisted-living centers, Neville Place at Fresh Pond and Cadbury Commons, also reported cases.

Case numbers overall are low but increasing. The state health department reported 22 cases among Cambridge residents in the two weeks ending July 22, the most recent figure, compared with 16 cases in the previous two weeks.

Baxter said the city has “experienced small waves in the summer before, and this seems consistent with that pattern, although we have much greater collective immunity than in the first years of the pandemic.”

“As numbers rise, residents can choose to exercise caution by wearing a mask in crowded indoor spaces; this type of precaution is particularly germane for those at risk for serious illness,” Baxter said. The health department also urges residents to get all recommended vaccinations, including boosters, and will notify residents when federal authorities decide what vaccinations will be offered this fall, she said.

The health department “recommends that residents monitor for symptoms and test if they feel unwell. We also suggest that people consider testing before visiting indoors with individuals who are vulnerable.” Free Covid rapid tests are available at the health department at 119 Windsor St., in The Port neighborhood; at City Hall; and in libraries, Baxter said. People who get infected should call their doctor, because medications such as Paxlovid can prevent serious illness, she said.

Punctuating the recommendations, chief public health officer Derrick Neal said: “I’m choosing to increase my precautions until we see the numbers come down. I’ll be wearing a mask in crowded places like grocery stores, and testing before visiting some of my older relatives. While I certainly intend to keep traveling and socializing, this uptick is a reminder that Covid is still a factor.”

While the health department urged a return to precautions, the city was lifting some protections. Plastic barriers in front of staff at counters at the main library, installed to protect employees against the virus, have been removed.