MORE THAN HALF of the state’s 351 cities and towns are now considered high risk for COVID-19, as the situation continues to deteriorate across Massachusetts.
The state’s weekly report indicates 187 communities, up from 158 last week, are high-risk because they have more than 10 cases per 100,000 people over the last two weeks and a positive test rate (positive tests divided by total tests) of 4 or 5 percent depending on the size of the municipality.
Those thresholds, revised in early November to make it harder to be designated high-risk, are being overwhelmed. Of the 187 high-risk communities, 17 have more than 100 cases per 100,000 people – 10 times the state’s threshold.
Lawrence has 204.8 cases per 100,000 people (20 times the threshold) and a positive test rate of 17 percent (more than three times the threshold). Nantucket has 184 cases per 100,000 people, Saugus 135.7, Lowell 134.4, Revere 134.2, Methuen 133.6, and Lynn 130.4.
All of the 187 communities are designated in red on the state’s coronavirus map. Another 76 are moderate risk, or yellow, and 13 are green and 75 gray – the two lowest-risk categories.
Boston is designated yellow because its positive test rate is 3.34 percent. Worcester and Springfield are both red.
Among counties, Essex was the highest with 101.5 cases per 100,000 people over the last two weeks, followed by Dukes and Nantucket counties, at 99.4 cases per 100,000 people.
The state as a whole reported 65.1 cases per 100,000 people over the last two weeks and a positive test rate of 6.01 percent. Gov. Charlie Baker says he prefers to look at two weeks of data rather than daily stats because two weeks offers a trend line.
According to the state’s weekly report, there were 66,810 COVID-19 cases over the last two weeks, and 51 percent of them were contracted by people under 39.
There were 644 deaths over the last two weeks, and people over 70 accounted for 526, or 82 percent, of the fatalities.
Of the 11,513 COVID-19 fatalities since the pandemic began, the racial breakdown has been 75.1 percent white, 7.4 percent black, 7.2 percent Hispanic, 2.5 percent Asian, and 7.2 percent “non-Hispanic other.”