Coronavirus cases are on the rise in Massachusetts and spreading quickly among people under the age of 30.
The town-by-town coronavirus data released Thursday showed 32 communities in the high-risk red zone, up from 20 last week. Active COVID case numbers rose for a third straight day Wednesday, then again Thursday.
The state's metrics are “certainly leveling and not leveling in a good way, because we’re leveling at a rate that’s higher than we would like to be at,” Tufts Medical Center epidemiologist Dr. Shira Doron said.
Several of those communities are located on Cape Cod, including Barnstable, Dennis and Yarmouth, causing concern among local officials.
Barnstable had the highest percent positivity in Massachusetts over the last 14 days at 10.2%, while the county has seen more than 1,000 new positive cases in the same time frame. The contagious P.1 variant was first discovered in Barnstable County last week.
Barnstable Public Schools opted for remote learning Thursday and Friday as cases surge in the district. Residents are being asked to avoid travel and any unnecessary large gatherings.
The prominent source of positive cases in Massachusetts is shifting to "a different age demographic," Gov. Charlie Baker said Thursday: "people under the age of 30."
Medical experts agree the vaccine is the key to drastically reducing spread – but those under 30 still aren’t eligible. Baker urged people to continue practicing public safety measures while cases remain high.
While the numbers are much lower than at the height of the pandemic, Doron said, they’re still not down to where they were last summer.
“We’re in this race between injections and infections, we’re in this place where, if we don’t go faster with our injections, our infections are going to rise,” she said.
Doron is calling for a more aggressive vaccination strategy.
“We have seen that in places that are injecting vaccinating rapidly and aggressively, like the U.K. and Israel, despite a massive predominance of the B117 variant, that have very dramatically declined in cases,” Doron said, referring to the U.K. variant of COVID-19.
More than three million people have received at least one dose of the COVID vaccine to date in Massachusetts.