Chelsea’s COVID-19 situation worsens; decision time for Rivera

Lynn spread slows while Somerville, Swampscott go yellow

OVERALL, the state’s COVID-19 status changed very little over the last week, but nevertheless there were some interesting stories tucked inside this week’s town-by-town breakdown.

The numbers indicate Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera has some decisions to make. He announced a crackdown on COVID-19 on August 14 in his community and vowed that if the state’s weekly numbers didn’t improve within two weeks he would push for more strenuous measures, including a rollback to an earlier stage of the state’s reopening plan. The state is currently in Phase 3, and Rivera said he would take Lawrence back to Phase 2 or Phase 1.

Despite Rivera’s call for a crackdown on noise and mask violations, a rollback in food service hours, and in-person educational visits to residents who travel outside the state, the situation in Lawrence is worsening, not improving. The number of cases per 100,000 people over the two-week period ending Wednesday rose to 10, up from 8.5 for the two-week period ending August 12.

An aide to Rivera said the mayor had not decided what action to take.

The situation in Chelsea, the hardest-hit community in Massachusetts, is continuing to worsen. Chelsea reported 31.9 cases per 100,000 people over the two-week period ending Wednesday. It was the third straight week where Chelsea’s numbers increased.

Lynn, where cases skyrocketed earlier this month, got a bit of good news in this week’s report. The number of cases per 100,000 people fell to 16.7 from 23.6 a week ago. That number placed Lynn just behind Revere, which reported 20.4 cases per 100,000 people.

Statewide, the number of cases per 100,000 people edged up slightly from 3.9 to 4, putting the state at the very bottom of the moderate risk category (between 4 and 8 cases per 100,000). The positive test rate (positive tests divided by total tests) remained low at 1.3 percent.

The number of high-risk, or red, communities (8 or more cases per 100,000 people over the previous two weeks) dropped from 10 to nine. Chelsea, Revere, Lynn, Everett (13.7 cases per 100,000), Lawrence (10), Winthrop (9.9), and Brockton (8.4) were holdovers. The two new additions, moving up from the yellow, or moderate risk, category, were Framingham (8.7) and Sutton (8).

The yellow group (between 4 and 8 cases per 100,000 people) remained steady at 30 members, but there was significant turnover within its ranks. Sixteen communities dropped out, including Framingham and Sutton, which moved up into the red category, and 14 others, including Fitchburg, Malden, Springfield, and Topsfield, that dropped into lower-risk categories.

Those 16 departing the yellow category were replaced by three communities that dropped from red to yellow (Salem, Saugus, and South Hadley) and 13 that moved up from the lower-risk categories.

Meet the Author

Bruce Mohl

Editor, CommonWealth

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

The newcomers included Somerville, where Mayor Joseph Curtatone has been an outspoken advocate for taking aggressive steps to curb the spread of COVID-19, and Swampscott, the governor’s hometown. Somerville had 4.7 cases per 100,000 people and Swampscott 5.7 cases.

The other 11 entering the yellow category this week were Agawam, Clinton, Dedham, Easton, Foxborough, Hudson, Lakeville, Norwood, Palmer, Swansea, and Westwood.

Boston and Worcester, the state’s two largest cities, both remained in the yellow category and saw their numbers increase. Boston rose from 6.4 cases per 100,000 people a week ago to 7.1 cases this week. Worcester went from 4.1 cases per 100,000 people a week ago to 5.1 this week.