coronavirus

New COVID Campaign Targets 5 Highest-Risk Cities in Massachusetts

The effort will feature billboard ads, digital and social media messaging, multi-lingual field teams, phone and text outreach and more

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Gov. Charlie Baker announced a new campaign Thursday to address the five Massachusetts communities that have shown the most persistently high COVID-19 case and transmission rates -- Chelsea, Everett, Lawrence, Lynn and Revere.

The campaign, an extension of the recently-created COVID Enforcement and Intervention Team that is to ramp up enforcement efforts and coordinate intervention efforts in high-risk communities, will feature billboard ads, digital and social media messaging, multi-lingual field teams, phone and text outreach, and communication with local organizations.

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In a COVID-19 update, Gov. Charlie Baker announces new resources for areas in Mass. with dangerously high transmission rates of the virus, including Chelsea, Everett, Lawrence, Revere and Lynn.

"The goal here is to make sure people understand what's going on in their community, where resources are available and what they can do themselves to stop the spread," Baker said. "People have the power here to save a life and everybody needs to do their part to stop the virus."

Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders said the campaign includes a new state website, www.mass.gov/stopcovid19, that will provide connections to resources and will post informational materials that can be printed out and displayed at businesses, housing complexes and in other places.

Revere Mayor Brian Arrigo, who joined Baker and Sudders for a press conference at the State House on Thursday, said his city saw an average of 12.6 new cases of COVID-19 each day in August, up from an average of six daily new cases in July. He also said his city and the others that are part of the enhanced intervention campaign share many similarities.

"We are cities of essential employees and frontline workers, many of whom rely on public transportation to continue to report to work. Many of our residents live in densely-populated areas and multi-generational and multi-family homes, and we continue to see clusters of cases emerge at single addresses," he said. "Half of our population is comprised of immigrants and communities of color. We know that this virus impacts Black and Brown communities disproportionately and we are seeing those impacts in the city of Revere."

Experts are warning increased vigilance for Labor Day weekend gatherings, after COVID-19 cases in the United States topped six million on Aug. 30. Cases have also rose among children during back-to-school season: according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, childhood cases rose by 17 percent during the last two weeks of August.

The number of communities categorized by the state as at the highest risk for COVID-19 spread fell again in the latest weekly report, as one town moved onto the list and two others were downgraded to lower risk levels.

Brockton and Sutton no longer fall into the "red" or high risk category, a designation assigned to communities with a daily average more than eight cases per 100,000 residents reported over the last two weeks.

Seven communities remain coded red from last week -- Chelsea, Everett, Framingham, Lawrence, Lynn, Revere and Winthrop. Of those, the highest rate is in Chelsea, with 29.4 cases per 100,000 residents, down from 31.9 last week. Nearby Revere, home to the next highest rate, experienced a slight uptick, from 20.4 last week to 20.9.

Because the rates are based on population, lower case numbers have a bigger impact on the status of smaller towns. Westhampton, a Hampshire County town with a population under 1,700, moved into the red this week, with five cases logged over the last 14 days and an average daily incidence rate of 21 per 100,000.

State House News Service contributed to this report.

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