Boston officials recommend wearing masks indoors again

April 21, 2022 GMT

BOSTON (AP) — Boston health officials are recommending that people wear masks indoors again because of a steep increase in COVID-19 cases over the past two weeks.

The Boston Public Health Commission said Thursday that people should take precautions, citing a 65% increase in cases and a slow rise in hospitalizations. The number of COVID-19 deaths statewide has been on the decline since January and is far from the peaks earlier in the pandemic.

The commission said it was renewing its recommendation that masks be worn in indoor public settings — including public transit and transportation hubs, government buildings, and crowded indoor venues — to protect people and prevent more cases.

On Monday, a federal judge in Florida struck down a national mask mandate on airplanes and mass transit. Airlines and airports swiftly began repealing their requirements that passengers wear face coverings.

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The Boston health commission’s recommendation comes just weeks after the city order that required people to wear face coverings in indoor public spaces was lifted. In early April, Boston followed New York, Los Angeles and other major U.S. cities in relaxing pandemic restrictions as officials pushed for more normalcy after two grueling years of the pandemic.

City public health Commissioner Dr. Bisola Ojikutu said when the order was lifted that “all of our key metrics are moving in the right direction.”

On Thursday, Ojikutu urged Boston residents to get tested if they’re feeling unwell, get vaccinated and stay up to date with boosters, and wear masks indoors, particularly in crowds.

The commission also said that COVID levels in local wastewater samples increased 109% over the past two weeks, which suggests cases could continue to rise.