Coronavirus Hot Spots: Map and List Show Communities With High Rates of Positive Tests

Chelsea, Lawrence 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.

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. 23-Sept. 5, 2020.

Cities and towns shaded red have the greatest risk levels. There are 13 in this map, an increase from the eight in last week's map, which included data from Aug. 16-29.

The high-risk communities in Wednesday's report are Chatham, Chelsea, Dedham, Everett, Framingham, Lawrence, Lynn, Lynnfield, Methuen, Monson, New Bedford, Revere, Winthrop. Of those cities and towns, all but Chatham, Monson and Winthrop appear on the chart below.

Chatham had seven cases in the last 14 days and Monson had 10, meaning neither met the threshold for inclusion our weekly tracking chart. Ranking every city and town purely by percent positivity during that time period, Chatham would be seventh highest and Monson would be 11th.

Winthrop actually had 23 cases in the last two weeks, enough to meet the 15-case threshold for the chart, but its 1.14% positivity in that period left it 30th highest among qualifying communities.

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 communities have the highest percentages of positive cases in that time period. This weekly list normally includes 25 communities, but with Peabody and Plymouth effectively tied, there are 26 below:

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 Bedford2,49714310.33,8191724.5%
Fall River1,983957.64,0041203%
North Attleborough323225.21,175292.47%

Data from between Aug. 26, 2020, and Sept. 9, 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.

Chelsea had the highest rate of positive tests among qualifying communities, despite improving from 5.88% last week to 5.35% this week. Lawrence had the second highest rate with 5.27%, a jump from last week's rate of 4.61%. Everett came in third with 5.16% positive tests, an increase from 4.93% last week.

Lynn, which was ranked third last week after spending weeks atop the chart, continued to improve, with its rate dropping from 5% to 3.74%. Boston dropped out of the top 25 last week with 1.4% positive tests, and this week, its rate was below 1%.

The state's overall rate of positive tests has fluctuated, but it has been decreasing in each data set presented since early August, dropping below 1% positive tests in the last 14 days.

Take a closer look at last week's list.

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