“We are at a point in the pandemic where we know how to handle the virus.”

A nurse performs a COVID-19 test at a Harvard Street Neighborhood Health Center testing and vaccination site on April 6, in Dorchester. Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff

Typically, when the number of COVID-19 cases increases, an increase in deaths and hospitalizations soon follows.

  • The CDC put half of Massachusetts at a “high” community level for COVID. This is what that means.

But Dr. Ashish Jha, who serves as the White House coronavirus response coordinator, said on sunday That in the Northeast, which has seen a surge in cases since around March 20, death counts and hospitalization rates are not as high as expected.

Since last week, half of Massachusetts counties have received “high” community COVID levels from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As of data reported on May 6, the state has had a seven-day average of more than 2,000 cases since April 24, much lower than the seven-day average in January, which peaked at more than 20,000. The state has also had a seven-day average of less than 10 deceased one day from March 14.

Boston, meanwhile, is seeing a seven-day average of 401.6 cases per day, as of May 3 data. Almost three quarters (73.2%) of the population eligible for vaccination in Boston is fully vaccinated, and in Massachusetts 89% of the population has received at least a dosebased on data reported as of May 9.

Looking at data from Massachusetts and other northeastern states, Jha, who is on short-term leave of absence from his position as dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, noted that the case fatality rate, or CFR, is more lower than it has been. on average during the pandemic, standing at 0.3% compared to 1.6%.

“Cases increased 3-4 times in the Northeast, from New York to CT, RI and Massachusetts,” he wrote on Twitter. “As you can see, it started to increase around March 20. Throughout the pandemic, we have seen a delay of about 3 weeks until deaths start to rise. So we would expect that by April 10th or so, deaths will start to rise. We make?”

Not so much, the doctor wrote.

About six weeks after cases began to rise, deaths were up “a little bit” and so were hospitalizations, but “not as much as one would have expected,” he said.

Jha said the lower death rate is likely due to higher booster rates, available treatments and more widespread testing.

And the pattern seen in the Northeast “helps chart the way forward,” he said.

“Unfortunately, other parts of our nation have lower booster rates and less testing,” Jha wrote. “Then the virus can spread more easily undetected and the population is less protected.”

Jha said he is concerned about the possibility of another wave of infections in the fall or winter. The doctor said another generation of vaccines, more treatments and more tests are likely to come, but not if Congress doesn’t step in and provide money for COVID recovery efforts.

“The bottom line is this: We are at a point in the pandemic where we know how to handle the virus,” Jha wrote. “To keep infections low, prevent serious illness and protect the most vulnerable. And that’s our focus right now.”

Read Jha’s full thread below:

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