Many of us have been feeling as though the coronavirus pandemic was over, using past tense when talking about its horrors and complications. But in reality, it’s still very much in the present. Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations are climbing again after the winter holidays, with Boston-area data showing a steep spike in Covid levels. But it’s not the same as it was.

The latest Covid-19 strain to hit New England is called XBB.1.5, which has been spreading quickly throughout the area, accounting for three quarters of cases according to the CDC.

But it’s not all doom and gloom; while hospitalizations due to Covid-19 have doubled over the past month, fewer than 10% are sick enough to require intensive care, a far smaller proportion than during variants such as omicron.

Yet, the healthcare system is under increasing strain, especially considering the prevalence of other winter-borne illnesses like the flu. 

So what does this mean for you? Boston officials are asking people to wear masks, maintain a social distance and avoid large crowds. Mandates are also cropping up for several schools and universities, including UMass Boston which is requiring students and faculty to wear masks not only indoors, but also in crowded outdoor settings.

“We should all be masking indoors, staying home when sick and testing for COVID-19,” Health Commissioner Dr. Bisola Ojikutu said in a statement.