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Keller @ Large: Jill Biden's positive COVID test part of a trend, but politicians stay mum

Keller @ Large: If COVID numbers are up, why aren't politicians saying anything?
Keller @ Large: If COVID numbers are up, why aren't politicians saying anything? 03:12

BOSTON - We don't know how First Lady Jill Biden contracted COVID, but her illness is part of a trend.

COVID hospitalizations shot up in August from their recent low levels. In New Jersey, one in four nursing homes is reporting COVID outbreaks. And in a handful of states, including Massachusetts, some hospitals are reinstating mask mandates.

How bad is the COVID comeback?

"We're really not in any kind of a surge; we're just not as good as we were in June and July," says Dr. Shira Doron, chief of Infection Control for Tufts Medicine. She urges putting it all in context but notes the political controversies surrounding the pandemic have hampered sound public health policymaking. "So many decisions were made that were so divisive, and we ended up with this partisan approach which has been a barrier," she says.

But Dr. Eric Feigl-Ding, chief of the COVID Task Force at the New England Complex Systems Institute, says, "We are not in the clear in any way, shape or form," and expresses alarm at lax safety precautions being taken, especially in schools. "Other than Boston-area schools, which have CO2 monitors in many schools, most schools don't have HEPA filters. I would say if you're a parent right now and you're sending your kid back, wear a pediatric mask if possible, but also make sure (the) school has HEPA filters."

These two experts may have a different spin on the situation, but they agree on the need for awareness of the continuing COVID threat and taking precautions, including masking in crowds and spaces with poor ventilation like public bathrooms, having tests on hand, and making a plan with your doctor in case you do catch it.

But don't expect to hear much about this from our political leaders. COVID issues have become so controversial, most of them have no appetite for even mentioning the subject.

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