The latest breaking updates, straight to your email inbox. In early November, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) changed the way communities would be classified. While the original method only considered the average daily rate of positive tests per 100,000 inhabitants, the new method also takes into account the total population of the community and the positive test rate. As of Thursday, 3.72 million Massachusetts residents had received at least their first coronavirus vaccine and 2.77 million were fully vaccinated, according to state health data.
Governor Charlie Baker has said his goal is to vaccinate up to 4.1 million people by the end of June. In fact, the presence of COVID RNA is increasing once again in wastewater sampled from Boston and surrounding suburbs by the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority. If you have close contact with someone with COVID-19 or reside in a community where there is a continuous spread of the virus and you develop symptoms such as fever, cough, shortness of breath, chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, or new loss of taste or smell, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health suggests calling your healthcare provider for guidance. There are now 77 Massachusetts communities in the red zone, meaning the state believes they have the highest risk of transmission of COVID-19 as the race between the ongoing vaccination campaign and the spread of coronavirus mutants intensifies. The number of cities and towns in this high-risk category has fluctuated in recent weeks, after falling to just 14 in early March from a high of 229 in mid-January. In terms of percent positivity, 238 cities and towns saw an increase or no change and 114 saw their positive test rates decrease. Jonathan Levy, chair of the environmental health department at Boston University, estimated that Massachusetts is likely experiencing “about three and a half times the number of cases that total cases are being reported by officials.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued “high community levels of COVID for half of Massachusetts counties this week, as cases and hospitalizations increase. The number of cities and towns that meet the Department of Public Health criteria for the high-risk red category increased by 40% from last week, has now increased for four consecutive weeks and has more than doubled in two weeks.
The number of cities and towns at high risk of COVID-19 transmission almost halved this week, declining for the third consecutive week as officials focus on being shot at guns. At the broader community level, CDC also recommends that cities and towns issue “environment-specific guidelines to help prevent the spread of the virus” as one of several steps officials could take. For more information on Massachusetts cities and towns such as their dates of incorporation and settlement, see the Secretary of State website.