The 7 New Cities and Towns Added to the High Risk Category on Massachusetts' COVID Map

There are now 46 communities across the state included in the high and moderate risk categories on the color-coded map

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Earlier this week, health officials unveiled a new color coded map showing the COVID-19 hot spots across Massachusetts as part of its effort to slow the spread of coronavirus following a recent uptick in cases.

On Wednesday, the state updated its color-coded map, adding 13 new cities and towns to the highest risk red and yellow categories.

The map shows the number of cases detected on average each day over the last two weeks in each of Massachusetts' communities. More than 8 cases per 100,000 translates to a high risk, between 4 and 8 cases per 100,000 is moderate risk, and any less than that is low risk.

Cities and towns shaded red have the greatest risk levels. There are now 11 in the latest map, up from four in the first map, which included data from July 22 to Aug. 5.

The high-risk communities included in the initial report were Lynn, Chelsea, Revere and Everett. Added to the red category on Wednesday were Saugus, Holyoke, Lawrence, Fall River, Salem, Granby and Hull.

The yellow, or moderate risk, communities also grew from 29 on Tuesday to 35 in Wednesday's report. While no communities that had red status moved to a lower-risk designation, Auburn and Belchertown dropped from yellow to green.

If you're not one of the 46 high or moderate risk communities, you don't have to worry about any increased enforcement.

For those municipalities that were labeled as high or moderate risk, the increased attention will include enforcement efforts like increased police involvement, fines and cease and desist orders for businesses, along with intervention-based efforts like road signs, public service announcements and additional funding.

"The idea is not to issue fines," Gov. Charlie Baker said Tuesday. "We want to make sure they're abiding by the gathering rules and will be sending people home if they're not... No one's looking to arrest people and write citations unless people literally refuse to play by the rules."

Massachusetts released a map showing coronavirus hot spots across the state.

Police are now authorized to enforce COVID-19 restrictions, picking up a task that previously had been under the purview of local boards of health.

Baker said enforcement of the gathering size limits is one way the state could help high- and moderate-risk communities, but he said he anticipated most of the citations or warnings would come as a result of people calling in complaints about businesses or parties, not random patrols or business spot checks.

The state is also offering to help cities and towns through a multi-agency COVID Enforcement and Intervention Team with road signs, public service announcements, reverse 911 calls or other communication strategies to remind residents to wear face coverings and practice good hygiene and distancing.

Parks, playgrounds and some businesses could also be restricted or shut down in moderate- or high-risk communities if they have been shown to be contributors to a municipality's higher infection rates, the governor said.

State House News Service contributed to this report.

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