Number of high-risk communities rises to 81
2d surge pattern: Deaths rise much slower than infections
THE NUMBER of communities considered high-risk for COVID-19 rose from 62 to 81 on Friday, as cases statewide continued to grow rapidly while deaths from the coronavirus grew more slowly.
The numbers followed what has become a predictable pattern during the second surge. Four weeks ago the Baker administration revised the metrics it uses to determine a high-risk, or red, community, causing the number to fall from 121 to 16. But since then the number of red communities has grown rapidly week by week, rising from 16 to 31 to 62 to 81.
Between November 8 and November 21, there were 36,194 new cases of COVID-19. More than half – 55 percent – of those infected were less than 39 years old, while those 70-plus accounted for just 7.6 percent of the cases. Deaths followed the opposite pattern: 83 percent of deaths were among those 70 or older and only 1.4 percent were 39 or less.
Deaths have been growing far more moderately than infections during this second surge. From November 8 to November 21, there were 357 deaths, up from 319 between November 1 and November 14. The deaths in the previous two-week intervals totaled 280 and 241. The Baker administration’s dashboard for Friday, which covered Wednesday afternoon through Friday morning, reported 4,464 new cases and 29 deaths.
Shirley, where an outbreak of COVID-19 occurred at the local state prison, reported the highest numbers on Friday – 153.3 cases per 100,000 people and a positive test rate (positive tests divided by total tests) of 23.74 percent.
The situation in Lawrence continued to deteriorate, as the municipality reported 113.7 cases per 100,000 people and a positive test rate of 13.49 percent.
Other very high-risk communities included Fall River (92.3 cases per 100,000 people and a positive test rate of 11.11 percent), Lowell (80.7 cases per 100,000 and a positive test rate of 10.18 percent), Chelsea (72.9 and 7.22 percent), Lynn (72.7 cases, 9.96 percent), and Everett (72.4 cases and 8.45 percent).
In public schools statewide, the number of infections declined. From November 11 to November 25, the number of students cases was 276 and staff cases 206, down from 398 student cases and 254 staff cases in the period running from November 19 to November 25. There are 450,000 students engaged in some form of in-person learning and 75,000 staff.
The state as a whole had 34.9 cases per 100,000 people and a positive test rate of 3.32 percent, up from 29.4 cases per 100,000 people and a positive test rate of 3.05 percent. The state as a whole is not considered high-risk because its positive test rate does not exceed 4 percent, in part because so many people are being tested on a daily basis now.According to the state’s report, 23 percent of the state’s 351 cities and towns are now considered high-risk, or red. Another 143, or 41 percent, are considered moderate risk, or yellow. Boston, Worcester, and Salem fell in the yellow category.
Combined, red and yellow communities now account for 64 percent of the state’s 351 cities and towns.