coronavirus in new england

15 More High-Risk Mass. Communities Are Moving Back to Step 1 of Phase 3

The communities have remained in the state's "red zone" for three consecutive weeks

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Fifteen more communities in Massachusetts are reverting back to Step 1 of Phase 3 of the state's reopening plan on Monday after being designated as high-risk communities for three weeks now.

Some of these businesses just opened several weeks ago under the state’s guidelines and now have to close yet again.

The state releases its weekly reports based on 14 days of information. There are 15 new cities and towns that fall under that category, including Abington, Berkley, Canton, East Longmeadow, Fairhaven, Fall River, Hanover, Hanson, Hingham, Marshfield, Milford, Pembroke, Rockland, Wakefield and Weymouth.

Businesses like roller skating rinks, trampoline parks, escape rooms and indoor theaters and performance venues have to remain closed during this time.

For other businesses it would require them to reduce capacity from 50% to 40% for places like gyms, libraries, museums, arcades and driving and flight schools.

During this phase, outdoor gatherings at event venues and in public settings are limited to 50 people.

The chief nursing officer at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center says the hospital is prepared for a second wave of the coronavirus - one that will look different than the first.

The rollback of reopening for the 15 communities comes amid a continuing spike in positive cases across the state.

Massachusetts confirmed 22 new deaths and 1,139 more coronavirus cases Sunday, the ninth straight day the state has announced more than 1,000 new cases.

The high case numbers continue to show a marked increase in the number of cases being reported in the state this fall.

There are now 77 communities in the state considered at the highest risk for transmitting COVID-19, according to last week's report from the state which included data on isolated outbreaks.

One such outbreak is at a church in central Massachusetts that led to the shut down of in-person services earlier this week after two dozen people tested positive for COVID-19. Crossroads Community Church in Fitchburg has now been connected to nearly 150 confirmed cases, according to the local board of health.

There have been 85 deaths connected to COVID-19 in Fitchburg this year.

Officials have traced the source of the rising outbreak to services held at the church on or around Sunday, Oct. 18. 

Contact tracers have also pointed to ice and deck hockey as a source of more than 40 confirmed cases, the Fitchburg Board of Health reported.

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