158 Massachusetts communities now considered ‘high risk’ for COVID spread in post-Thanksgiving spike – masslive.com

One hundred fifty-eight Massachusetts cities and towns are now classified as “high risk” for coronavirus spread, according to data the Department of Public Health released on Thursday.

The following communities are in the red: Abington, Acushnet, Agawam, Amesbury, Andover, Ashland, Attleboro, Auburn, Avon, Ayer, Barnstable, Bellingham, Berkley, Billerica, Blackstone, Boxford, Boylston, Bridgewater, Brockton, Burlington, Carver, Charlton, Chelmsford, Chelsea, Chicopee, Clinton, Concord, Danvers, Dartmouth, Dighton, Douglas, Dover, Dracut, Dudley, East Bridgewater, Edgartown, Everett, Fairhaven, Fall River, Fitchburg, Framingham, Freetown, Gardner, Georgetown, Gloucester, Grafton, Granby, Groveland, Halifax, Hamilton, Hanover, Hanson, Harwich, Haverhill, Holbrook, Holden, Holyoke, Hopedale, Hudson, Lakeville, Lancaster, Lawrence, Leicester, Lenox, Leominster, Littleton, Lowell, Ludlow, Lunenburg, Lynn, Lynnfield, Malden, Manchester, Mansfield, Marion, Marlborough, Marshfield, Mattapoisett, Melrose, Mendon, Merrimac, Methuen, Middleborough, Middleton, Milford, Millbury, Millis, Montague, Nantucket, New Bedford, Norfolk, North Andover, North Attleborough, North Brookfield, Northborough, Norton, Norwood, Oxford, Palmer, Peabody, Pembroke, Pittsfield, Plainville, Plymouth, Quincy, Randolph, Raynham, Rehoboth, Revere, Rochester, Rockland, Rowley, Rutland, Salem, Salisbury, Saugus, Seekonk, Shirley, Shrewsbury, Somerset, Southampton, Southborough, Southbridge, Southwick, Spencer, Springfield, Sterling, Stoneham, Stoughton, Sturbridge, Sutton, Swansea, Taunton, Tewksbury, Topsfield, Townsend, Tyngsborough, Upton, Uxbridge, Wakefield, Walpole, Wareham, Webster, West Boylston, West Bridgewater, West Springfield, Westfield, Westford, Westminster, Westport, Weymouth, Whitman, Wilbraham, Wilmington, Winthrop, Woburn, Worcester and Yarmouth.

Last week, the number of cities and towns designated high risk was 97. The latest changes represent a significant jump in communities at higher risk, which coincides with a statewide spike in COVID cases following Thanksgiving.

Earlier this week, Gov. Charlie Baker announced that all Massachusetts communities will move back to Step 1 of Phase 3 of reopening, meaning more restrictions for restaurants, public gatherings and other businesses.

Health officials in November announced changes to the way they classify risk levels for COVID-19 transmission.

Risk designations — which are colored, grey, green, yellow and red based on infection levels — are now determined using several new metrics for three population categories: communities with a population of less than 10,000; between 10,000 and 50,000; and greater than 50,000.

Officials say the new categories help to make the community-specific data more nuanced, and better account for increases in cases in smaller communities and for communities where testing is more robust.

For communities with fewer than 10,000 residents, “grey” will be assigned if there are 10 total cases or fewer; “green” if there are up 15 cases; “yellow” if there are up to 25 cases; and “red” if there are more than 25 cases.

For communities with between 10,000 and 50,000 residents, “grey” will be assigned if there are 10 total cases or fewer; “green” if there are less than 10 average cases per 100,000 residents and more than 10 cases; “yellow” if there are 10 or more cases per 100,000 residents or a test positivity rate of 5% or more; and “red” if there are 10 or more cases per 100,000 residents and a test positivity rate of 5% or more.

And for communities with more than 50,000 residents, “grey” will be assigned if there are 15 total cases or fewer; “green” if there are less than 10 average cases per 100,000 residents and more than 15 cases; “yellow” if there are 10 or more cases per 100,000 residents or a test positivity rate of 4% or more; and “red” if there are 10 or more cases per 100,000 residents and a test positivity rate of 4% or more.

State health officials confirmed another 5,130 cases of the virus on Thursday, bringing the number of active cases of the virus statewide to 63,362.

Officials also announced another 41 COVID-related deaths, bringing the total number of deaths since the start of the pandemic to 10,963.

The number of COVID hospitalizations increased to 1,607 on Thursday, which includes 307 patients in intensive care, data shows.

The seven-day average of positive tests ticked down slightly to 5.67%. But the average is up from a low of .8% observed just a few months ago.

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