In Mass. Communities at High Risk for COVID, Residents Deal With Restrictions

There are now 13 Massachusetts cities and towns in the red risk level

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Thirteen Massachusetts communities are now in the red zone, meaning they are considered high risk for COVID-19. As cities and towns work to beat back the virus, residents are trying to live with even more restrictions.

In Everett, city officials made the decision to close all parks Thursday until further notice. The transmission rate in Everett has been dangerously high for a while, and Mayor Carlo DeMaria said the closure is what is needed to stop the spread.

"Throughout the month of August, the majority of positive COVID cases in Everett came from children who ranged in age from 11-16," DeMaria said in a statement. "Our parks were the only common denominator for the spike in these cases."

Families in Everett were stunned to find playgrounds locked up Thursday. Signs out front explain that residents can go for walks and use the trails, but may not use the courts or playground equipment.

"I was surprised because I didn't know and it's hard to explain to kids who don't understand," Wellison Aguiar said after showing up to a park with his daughter.

Parks and playgrounds are closing indefinitely in Everett as the city reacts to an alarming rise in coronavirus cases.

Aguiar brought a ball to play with his daughter outside the locked playground. He said he understands the city's decision, but he is concerned with the weather getting colder.

"We don't have a lot of park days left as it is," he said.

Everett said it will reopen the parks if the numbers go down.

In Dedham, which was newly added to the high-risk list, officials are reversing their decision to reopen the schools due to the uptick. They are postponing their plan to allow students back to classrooms gradually and will instead have them learn remotely.

"It's a no-win situation for everybody. I really feel for the teachers," said Ali Barton, a mother of two.

Students are returning to school, both in person and online, despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Barton said it is especially frustrating after learning Dedham's COVID-19 clusters are being blamed on a series of parties hosted by young people.

"One group can wreck it for everybody," she said.

Dedham school officials said they will revisit their decision if the data improves. Town officials plan to outline their efforts to stop the spread at a press conference Friday morning.

Gov. Charlie Baker says the Shared Streets and Spaces program, which launched in June as a way to provide funds to local communities to expand sidewalks, curbs, streets, on-street parking spaces and off-street parking lots, could become part of the "permanent architecture" with respect to how businesses operate.
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