Reasons for Optimism? New CDC COVID Data Contains Positive Signs for Mass.

Only four Massachusetts counties are considered high risk

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Only four of Massachusetts' 14 counties are now considered high risk for COVID-19, down from 12 just a week ago, according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The latest data released Thursday shows that Barnstable, Franklin, Middlesex and Norfolk counties are listed as high risk. Bristol County is now considered low risk, with the rest of the state in the medium risk category.

Source: CDC

That's a dramatic decrease in risk level, reflective of some of the other recent trends in case totals, school cases and test positivity rate that show the state may finally be emerging from the spring COVID surge.

State health officials reported 2,561 new COVID-19 cases and 24 more deaths on Thursday. The state's seven-day average positivity was at 7.29% Thursday, compared to 7.72% on Wednesday. Both metrics were substantially lower than a week ago.

And after increasing for months, the number of new cases in Massachusetts schools declined for the second straight week. The total of 8,047 cases was a decrease of about 36.8% from last Thursday's report, when a total of 12,729 cases were identified.

Recent data from the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority's COVID-19 wastewater tracker also continues to show COVID levels declining.

What about the rest of New England?

Source: CDC

New Hampshire no longer has any counties listed as high risk. Carroll, Hillsborough and Merrimack counties are listed as low risk, with the rest of the state in the medium risk category.

Vermont is also seeing improvement. Only Bennington County is high risk, with Orleans, Rutland, Windham and Windsor counties now listed as medium risk. The rest of the state -- mostly the northern part -- carries the low risk designation.

Maine still has four counties -- Aroostook, Franklin, Oxford and Piscataquis -- in the high risk category. Androscoggin, Hancock, Penobscot and Washington counties are medium risk, while the rest of the state is low risk.

Middlesex County in Connecticut is listed as high risk, New London County low risk, and the rest of the state is in the medium risk category.

Connecticut is mostly in the high risk category, other than New London County.

The entire state of Rhode Island is in the medium risk category.

Residents in counties with high risk are urged to wear masks indoors in public and on public transportation, to stay up to date with vaccines and to get tested if they have symptoms, according to the CDC.

Residents in areas with medium risk are encouraged to wear a mask if they have symptoms, a positive test or exposure to someone with COVID-19. Anyone at high risk for severe illness should also consider wearing a mask indoors in public and taking additional precautions, the CDC says.

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