State announces 18 new deaths from COVID-19, 229 new cases of the virus

This illustration provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in January 2020 shows the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV). This virus was identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China. (CDC via AP)
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BOSTON — Health officials reported 18 newly confirmed deaths from COVID-19 on Wednesday, bringing the state’s death toll to 8,769.

The Department of Public Health also announced 229 newly confirmed cases of the disease on Wednesday, bringing the statewide total of confirmed cases to 113,198.

The seven-day weighted average of the state’s positive test rate — which had surpassed 2% last week, after remaining below that figure for most of July — has dropped to 1.5%, according to Wednesday’s data.

Wednesday’s seven-day positive test rate is the lowest observed value since health officials started tracking data of the highly-contagious disease in March. The positive test rate was 16.6% at its peak on May 1.

Coronavirus hospitalizations increased by 35 patients on Wednesday, bringing the total to 422 statewide, health officials announced. Of that total, 64 patients are currently in the ICU, and 33 are intubated.

The three-day average of the number of coronavirus hospitalizations was at its lowest on July 27, but has increased 10% since that time, according to Wednesday’s data. However, the current average of 396 hospitalized patients remains a massive drop-off from the total on May 1, when it reached 3,707.

Gov. Charlie Baker released a color-coded map on Tuesday, showing 318 of the 351 municipalities were at or below national benchmarks for containing the virus, which included municipalities in Greater Lowell.

The map, using traffic-light colors of red, yellow and green, categorized municipalities as higher, moderate or lower risk based on the 14-day average of daily coronavirus cases per 100,000.

The map showed Leominster and Fitchburg in the “green” category, having less than four cases per 100,000 residents.

Twenty-nine municipalities were rated yellow, meaning the average number of daily coronavirus cases were four to eight per 100,000 residents. Four municipalities — Lynn Revere, Chelsea and Everett — were colored red, meaning they are at the highest risk for an outbreak.

“Regardless of where your community sits, COVID is not going away,” Baker said during a press briefing on Tuesday. “Your actions, no matter where you live or where you work, will determine in many respects whether and how this virus spreads.”

Below is the total COVID-19 infections by city and town from Jan. 1 through Wednesday and how that total compares to last week’s numbers:

• Ashburnham – 35 (+1)

• Ashby – 15 (no change)

• Ayer – 147 (+1)

• Fitchburg – 839 (+15)

• Gardner – 202 (+2)

• Groton – 44 (no change)

• Lancaster – 108 (+2)

• Leominster – 740 (+10)

• Lunenburg – 71 (+2)

• Pepperell – 59 (+1)

• Princeton – 8 (no change)

• Rutland – 56 (+2)

• Shirley – 178 (+1)

• Sterling – 124 (no change)

• Townsend – 38 (+2)

• Westminster – 34 (+1)

The state also released the numbers of patients currently being treated and those treated in the ICU.

HealthAlliance-Clinton Hospital’s Leominster’s campus was treating four patients with one in the ICU.

Heywood Hospital in Gardner has one patient, who is in the ICU.

Nashoba Valley Medical Center has no patients at this time.