The number of cities and towns labeled high risk for the coronavirus has more than doubled in the past two weeks, rising to 17 this week from 13 last week and eight the week before, according to state data.
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The 17 communities represent the highest number of cities and towns in the hot zone since the State Department of Public Health began reporting weekly data using a color-coded risk assessment system in August that shaded high-risk communities in red .
Chelsea, Dedham, Everett, Framingham, Lawrence, Lynn, Lynnfield, Monson, New Bedford, Revere and Winthrop remained on the high-risk list for another straight week, according to data released Wednesday.
Saugus returned to the list, joining Nantucket, Plainville, Tyngsborough, Worcester, and Wrentham, while Chatham and Methuen went down. Communities in the red zone reported a daily average of eight or more COVID-1
Nantucket officials wrote in a statement Friday that there had been a “September wave” including transmission of the virus to the community.
“We have regressed in our mission to crack down on the spread of COVID,” wrote Dawn Hill Holdgate, chairman of the board, advising residents on best practices for staying safe on the island. “The current surge is proof that even a little relaxation is dangerous.”
Dedham is continuing with state-sponsored coronavirus testing Thursday after an increase in cases was linked to groups of two recent youth gatherings.
“We are urging as many people as possible to take the test,” Dedham Town manager Leon Goodwin said in a statement.
The number of moderate-risk communities – those with 4-8 cases per 100,000 residents – was 36 this week. About 80 cities and towns have been listed as low-risk, with fewer than four cases.
On Wednesday, public health officials reported 295 new coronavirus cases and 20 more deaths as the average positive test rate remained at an all-time low of 0.8%.
The 20 new deaths bring the confirmed COVID-19 toll to 9,036.
The 295 new cases bring the total number of confirmed coronavirus cases to 123,720. A further 11 probable cases were reported on Wednesday, for a combined total of 125,699 confirmed and probable cases. More than 109,000 people have currently recovered.
The state also first reported college-university cumulative testing this week, saying 499 cumulative cases were confirmed across 59 schools conducting on-campus testing. Of these, 168 have been reported since last week.
Overall, colleges and universities have conducted 518,904 tests for the new virus and 532 tested positive. About 153,675 of these tests have been conducted in the last week alone.