Boston Mayor Postpones City’s Planned Reopening After Study Shows Just 10 Percent Have Coronavirus Antibodies

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh speaks at a press conference.
Scott Eisen / Getty Images

Boston will not be moving forward with its planned reopening after a study showed that just less than 10 percent of the people in the city have coronavirus antibodies, Mayor Marty Walsh announced.

As Boston 25 News reported, city had been set to start a phased re-opening at the beginning of next week, but Walsh said at a press conference that they would not be able to move forward after the results of the study.

Conducted by Massachusetts General Hospital and the Boston Public Health Commission, the study found that 9.9 percent of people tested in four Boston neighborhoods tested positive for antibodies, meaning they had recovered from an infection, and another 2.6 percent were asymptomatic carriers of the coronavirus.

There is not yet medical consensus on whether a person with antibodies could be reinfected with coronavirus.

Walsh said that the study showed that the city’s early and decisive actions were effective in slowing the spread of the virus, as the majority of the population had not been exposed. He added that it also underscored the importance of a cautious approach to reopening the city by allowing some non-essential businesses to open.

But Walsh said the plans to start that reopening on May 18 will have to be put on hold.

“When May 18th comes, I can’t go to my mother’s house,” he said. “After this study that shows me ninety percent of the people in Boston — and that’s a conservative number — so let’s say let’s be a little more liberal side and say it’s 80 percent of the people in Boston still have not come in contact with coronavirus. I’m not going to take that risk to my mother.”

Officials in Boston and across the state of Massachusetts have grappled with how to begin reopening the state, and some protesters have taken to the street to call on officials to speed up the process. As CBS Boston reported, Gov. Charlie Baker had initially announced that the state would start to reopen on May 4, but that was pushed back to May 18

Baker, at the time, announced the creation of the state’s Economic Reopening Advisory Board, a 17-member body that would come up with a concrete plan on which businesses can begin reopening.

“This group will work on a plan that occurs in phases to help industries navigate public health guidance and implement safety measures for the new rules of the road,” Baker said in announcing the formation of the board.