At the height of the winter surge in Massachusetts, 229 of the state’s 351 cities and towns were considered high risk for the spread of COVID-19. Months later, none of the communities in the Commonwealth merit high-risk designation.
The state’s latest report marks the second week in a row that zero communities are high risk. There were also zero communities deemed to be at moderate risk for COVID-19 for the first time.
The state releases a map on a weekly basis that uses coronavirus case counts to show which Massachusetts communities are at high, moderate, and low risk for COVID-19 infection.
The statewide average daily rate of infection per 100,000 residents was at 2.4, down from 3.9 in last week’s report, and Boston’s average daily rate was at 3.0, down from 3.9 in last week’s report.
Governor Charlie Baker introduced the map on Aug. 11 and it initially outlined each town’s average daily increase in cases per 100,000 people over the most recent two-week period. In November, Baker announced the state had changed its metrics for determining the level of risk for COVID-19 transmission in communities.
Under the new guidelines, larger communities are designated high risk if they have an average of more than 10 cases per 100,000 residents and a positive test rate greater than or at 4 percent. Cities and towns with 10,000 to 50,000 residents are categorized as high risk if they average more than 10 cases per 100,000 people and have a positive test rate of 5 percent or higher. If communities with fewer than 10,000 residents have more than 25 cases, they are considered high risk.
In the first week that the state applied the new standards, the number of high-risk communities plummeted from 121 cities and towns — including Boston — to just 16.
But the number rose from there, from 30, to 62, to 81, 97, 158, 187, 188, 190, 219, and peaking at 229. From there it fell to 222, to 192, 153, 110, 66, 28, 19, 14, 20, 32, 55, 77, 59, 48, 26, 13, 6, 2, 1, and to 0 in last week’s report.
Here’s a look at the state’s risk map: