Coronavirus Hot Spots: Map and List of Mass. Communities With High Rates of Cases

Lawrence, Chelsea and Everett had the highest percentages of positive COVID-19 tests over the last two weeks

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Massachusetts has released its latest weekly data on the coronavirus pandemic, including an updated version of the state's new community-level risk assessment map.

The data, from the Department of Public Health, includes a breakdown of the total number of coronavirus cases in each Massachusetts city and town, as well as the new map. Beginning in September, health officials are also including data from colleges and universities in the report.

Community Risk Assessment

Last month, Gov. Charlie Baker revealed this new metric for understanding how much the virus has spread locally.

It shows the number of cases detected on average each day over the last two weeks in each of Massachusetts' communities. More than 8 cases per 100,000 translates to a high risk, between 4 and 8 cases per 100,000 is moderate risk, and any less than that is low risk, Baker said.

Mass. COVID hot spot map
Mass. Department of Public Health
This map shows the average daily number of coronavirus cases per capita in Massachusetts from Aug. 30-Sept. 12, 2020.

Cities and towns shaded red have the greatest risk levels. There are 17 in this map, an increase from the 13 in last week's map, which included data from Aug. 23-Sept. 5.

The high-risk communities in Wednesday's report are Chelsea, Dedham, Everett, Framingham, Lawrence, Lynn, Lynnfield, Monson, Nantucket, New Bedford, Plainville, Revere, Saugus, Tyngsborough, Winthrop, Wrentham and Worcester.

Of that group, all but four appear on the chart below ranking communities by rates of positive tests. Monson and Plainville were excluded because they did not meet the threshold of 15 positive tests in the last two weeks, while Winthrop (1.21% positivity) and Worcester (0.87%) were not among the 25 qualified communities with the highest rates of positive tests in that period.

The data provided by the state in its weekly report on COVID-19 has changed as the pandemic has dragged on. Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders said earlier this month that her agency recognizes that it's necessary to change what data the state reports as it moves into different phases of outbreak.

Recent Coronavirus Tests Returning Positive

Among cities and towns with at least 15 new cases in the last two weeks, these 25 communities have the highest percentages of positive cases in that time period.

CommunityNumber of casesCases in the last 14 daysAverage daily incidence rate per 100,000 in the last 14 daysTotal tests in the last 14 daysPositive tests in the last 14 daysPercent positivity in the last 14 days
New Bedford2,5481319.43,9031584.05%
Fall River2,027846.73,9561203.03%

Data from between Sept. 2 and Sept. 16, 2020, omitting communities with under 15 new cases in that span. The state notes that earlier reports were based on the number of people who tested positive, but this percentage is instead based on the total number of positive tests. Both tallies are listed in the chart above.

Lawrence had the highest rate of positive tests among qualifying communities, with a slight increase from 5.27% last week to 5.32% this week. Chelsea had the second highest rate with 4.72%, an improvement from last week's rate of 5.35%. Everett came in third with 4.56% positive cases, an improvement from 5.16% last week.

The state's overall rate of positive tests has fluctuated, but it has been decreasing in each data set presented since early August, dropping to 0.9% positive tests in the last 14 days.

Take a closer look at last week's list.

Colleges and Universities

From Sept. 16 forward, the Executive Office of Health and Human Services says data from 59 colleges and universities with on-campus testing will be included in the state's weekly report.

As of Wednesday, there have been 499 confirmed COVID-19 cases associated with higher education testing. Of those cases, more than a third -- 168 -- have come in the last week.

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