Lawrence leads way as red spread grows

State’s overall case rate rises to 9.2

THE NUMBER of communities at high risk for the spread of COVID-19 rose again on Thursday, led by Lawrence which continues to creep higher and higher despite intensive efforts by state and local officials to bring the case count down.

The number of communities in the red zone – those with 8 or more cases per 100,000 people over the previous two weeks – hit 77 this week, 14 more than last week. Four of the communities – Chelmsford, Middleton, Milton, and North Andover — were assigned asterisks, meaning a large chunk of their infections occurred at a prison, long-term care facility, or a college.

The state’s overall rate rose to 9.2, up from 8.7 a week ago. (It was 4 as recently as late August.) The state’s rate is nearing 10, the new threshold Massachusetts is using to determine which states are higher risk. Visitors from those states are required to fill out forms and either quarantine for 14 days or provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test. The threshold had been 6 cases per 100,000 until October 16.

Lawrence reported 45.9 cases per 100,000 people over the last two weeks. Chelsea was second at 28.4, Revere third at 27, Everett fourth at 23.4, and Kingston fifth at 21.6. No other communities were above 20 except Middleton, where an outbreak at a jail caused the community’s rate to hit 61.6.

Thirteen communities were required to move back a step in the state’s reopening plan because they had been designated red for three consecutive weeks. The communities were Acushnet, Brockton, Chelmsford, Holyoke, Hudson, Kingston, Leicester, Malden, Plymouth, Randolph, Waltham, Webster, and Woburn.

The state data continued to show younger people getting the most infections, but this week those 19 and under had the most – 20 percent of the total over the last two weeks. The infection rate declined with age, as those 20 to 29 accounted for 19 percent of the infections, those in their 30s 17 percent, and so on.

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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.

Nantucket fell out of the red zone Thursday for the first time in five weeks.

The number of communities with a yellow designation, meaning they had between 4 and 8 cases per 100,000, rose to 96 from 88 a week before. The total number of red and yellow communities is now 173, just five less than the remaining 178 communities, which are considered low risk with rates less than 4 per 100,000.