Number of high-risk communities finally drops

Vaccination news also improves slightly

THE STATE’S WEEKLY COVID-19 reports showed improvement on Thursday, with the number of high-risk communities dropping for the first time in months and vaccine shipments to the state increasing slightly compared to last week.

The promising news matched other metrics that Gov. Charlie Baker cited in ending a requirement that businesses shut down for the night at 9:30 p.m. Baker said the state’s positive test rate, seven-day average of cases, and hospitalizations were all down since early January. (For more on Baker’s easing of the restriction, click here.)

At a State House press conference, Baker said he wants to expand the number of COVID-19 vaccine inoculation sites but is wary of doing so until he knows more doses are coming. “We can’t plan to build infrastructure if we don’t know what’s coming,” he said. Still, Baker said, the state’s timetable for vaccine distribution is moving on as scheduled, give or take a week or two.

Baker said the nation is currently distributing 800,000 doses a day, and the Biden administration is vowing 100 million shots will be administered over the next 100 days, which works out to 1 million shots a day. Baker said he expects the nation will have to ramp up to the 1 million-a-day figure, which makes planning ahead difficult.

The vaccination report released on Thursday said 52,225 COVID-19 vaccine doses were shipped to the state over the seven days leading up to Tuesday, bringing the total so far to 591,775. The state report said 86,230 doses were administered over the seven-day period, bringing the total number of shots in arms to 359,019. Both metrics showed improvement over the previous week.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said a total of 776,000 doses have been distributed to Massachusetts and 353,117 administered.  The federal number of doses administered is nearly 6,000 less than the state’s number while the federal number for deliveries to Massachusetts is 184,225 higher.

The federal number for doses delivered appears to be higher because it includes doses not tracked by the state – those delivered directly to the Walgreens and CVS pharmacy chains.

The state’s weekly report on communities at high-risk for COVID-19 also showed slight improvement. The number of red, or high-risk, communities fell by seven to 222. The number of red communities with more than 100 cases per 100,000 people also dropped by one to 29.

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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.

The state as a whole reported 75.5 cases per 100,000 people over the previous two weeks and a positive test rate of 6.85 percent. Both numbers were improvements over last week, when the state reported 78 cases per 100,000 people and a positive test rate of 7.99 percent.

The two municipalities with the highest numbers were Acushnet, with  167.5 cases per 100,000 people, and Lawrence , with 160.9 cases per 100,000 people.