A new “stoplight” map unveiled Tuesday by Gov. Charlie Baker’s administration shows 29 communities at moderate risk of coronavirus outbreaks and four cities — Chelsea, Everett, Lynn and Revere — in the red, meaning they are at the highest risk.
“These communities require specific strategies to attack COVID there, and to work with them to stop the spread,” Baker said Tuesday while speaking at the State House.
Each of the 351 cities and towns is designated as higher, moderate or lower risk based on the 14-day average of daily coronavirus cases per 100,000 residents.
“Using the stoplight colors red, yellow and green, we’ve created color charts, depicting municipalities regarding new cases per hundred thousand,” Health and Human Services Sec. Marylou Sudders said, gesturing to the patchwork-color map beside her.
Communities shaded in red — at higher risk — exhibited eight new positive coronavirus cases on average per 100,000 residents. Those in yellow — or moderate risk — reported between between four and eight cases per 100,000 residents. Those in green, considered lower risk, are communities with fewer than four cases on average per 100,000 people. The unshaded areas are communities with fewer than five coronavirus cases.
“I want to be clear on one point. Regardless of where your community sits, COVID is not going away. Your actions, no matter where you live or where you work, will determine in many respects how this virus spreads,” Baker said.
“The virus doesn’t care about boundaries and it certainly takes every opening any of us give it,” Baker said, noting “too many people are letting their guard down.”
Baker pressed people to remember that “this virus continues to affect, injure, and kill people every single day.” Since March, 112,673 Massachusetts residents have contracted COVID-19 and 8,519 have died, according to public health data.
Sudders urged people across the state to “respect the virus” and to be more vigilant in wearing masks, staying 6 feet apart, hand washing and staying away from others when sick in order to stop the spread of the highly infectious virus.
Baker pledged “additional support” to higher-risk communities and said he and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito have connected with leaders from nearly all of the 33 municipalities at high- or moderate risk of an outbreak to determine the “best” enforcement strategies for their communities.
Last Friday, the governor announced a multi-agency COVID-19 enforcement and intervention team to encourage compliance of coronavirus-era mandates including face coverings and limits on gathering sizes in communities labeled as “higher-risk.”
Baker clarified on Tuesday the point team “is to help” high- and moderate-risk communities and says he wants enforcement to be “locally driven.” The squads will provide resources including targeted interventions and inspections of businesses and events, enforcement of fines for violating coronavirus-era orders and targeted public messaging to encourage compliance, according to Baker’s office.
“The good news here should not get lost — 318 communities here in Massachusetts are at or below national benchmarks with respect to containing COVID-19 in their communities,” Baker said.
“We can continue to reopen Massachusetts and get back to something like a new normal, but only if everybody continues to bring their fight to this virus,” Baker says