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Shirley, Townsend latest Greater Lowell communities removed from coronvirus ‘high-risk’ list

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)
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 — Two more Greater Lowell communities were removed from the state’s weekly list of towns and cities at “high risk” for coronavirus transmission on Thursday, mirroring the encouraging COVID-19 data trend unfolding across the state.

Shirley and Townsend are among the 45 towns and cities that were removed this week from the state Department of Public Health’s list of communities at high risk, as the average daily incidence rates and positivity rates continue to drop statewide.

To qualify in the high-risk category, the DPH states communities with populations under 10,000 must have more than 25 cases of the virus. For communities between 10,000 and 50,000 people, they must have an average of at least 10 cases per 100,000 people and a positive test rate of at least 5%. For communities with a population exceeding 50,000, they must have at least 10 cases per 100,000 people and a positive test rate of at least 4%.

Just two weeks ago, there were 153 communities still on the high-risk list in Massachusetts. Based on last week’s data, that number decreased to 110. As of Thursday, health officials reported 65 towns and cities still considered communities at high-risk for COVID-19 transmission. It’s the fifth week in a row this number has dropped.

Over the last couple weeks, Billerica, Burlington, Chelmsford, Pepperell, Tewksbury, Tyngsboro, Westford and Wilmington have been removed from the list. Lowell, Dracut and Ayer remain classified as high risk for coronavirus transmission, though the daily incidence rates and positivity rates in these two communities has shown a significant decrease since last month’s spike in COVID-19 infections that followed the holiday season.

Also on Thursday, the DPH announced 1,803 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 statewide, bringing the total of confirmed cases to 534,827 since the pandemic began. Health officials also revealed 61 new confirmed deaths on Thursday, bringing the confirmed death toll to 15,373 statewide.

On Thursday, the DPH announced there were 1,029 patients hospitalized with COVID-19, including 271 patients in intensive care units statewide and 173 patients who were intubated. Thursday’s data shows the average age of patients hospitalized was 70.

There were an estimated 38,666 active COVID-19 cases statewide as of Thursday, which is an approximately 23% decrease compared to last Thursday’s data.

The statewide coronavirus statistical trends, monitored daily by the DPH, show a continued drop in several key categories following a COVID-19 infection surge that came after the holiday season.

According to Thursday’s data, the seven-day average of confirmed COVID-19 cases statewide is 1,198.7, a 80% drop from this year’s peak reported to be 6,240.3 on Jan. 8. The seven-day average of hospitalizations reported on Thursday is 1,141.3, a 51% decrease from this year’s peak of 2,346.8 reported on Jan. 7.

The DPH also announced Thursday’s seven-day weighted average positive test rate of all molecular tests statewide is 2.13%, which is a significant drop off compared to the highest average so far this year reported to be 8.7% on Jan. 1.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 69,165 new cases of COVID-19 nationwide early Thursday evening, bringing the total to nearly 27.7 million cases since the pandemic began. The CDC also announced the virus’ nationwide death toll was 489,067 as of Thursday evening, an increase of roughly 18,957 deaths compared to last Thursday.

Below is the total COVID-19 infections by city and town from Jan. 1, 2020, through Tuesday and how that total compares to last week’s numbers:

  • Acton – 733 (+23)
  • Ayer – 724 (+10)
  • Bedford – 726 (+25)
  • Billerica – 3,057 (+52)
  • Burlington – 1,584 (+35)
  • Chelmsford – 2,342 (+60)
  • Dracut -2,967 (+74)
  • Dunstable – 123 (+2)
  • Groton – 375 (+10)
  • Littleton – 463 (+14)
  • Lowell – 14,120 (+265)
  • Pepperell – 420 (+13)
  • Shirley – 770 (+6)
  • Tewksbury – 2,774 (+74)
  • Townsend – 361 (+8)
  • Tyngsboro – 911 (+18)
  • Westford – 1,044 (+32)
  • Wilmington – 1,799 (+38)

Follow Aaron Curtis on Twitter @aselahcurtis

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