The state has identified 33 communities where worrying trends in COVID-19 infection rates warrant targeted intervention efforts, and the state plans to offer those municipalities assistance with testing, contact tracing, and public awareness campaigns, Gov. Charlie Baker said.
The State House News Service reports that the effort is part of a new initiative to better inform residents about the spread of the coronavirus in their communities and the cities and towns where they work, shop or travel to on a regular basis so they can make informed decisions about precautions to limit infections. “People need to step up and be aware of the level of spread in each community, especially in your own area, and be vigilant,” Baker said at a press conference at the State House.
The administration said it will begin publishing weekly data showing town-by-town infection rates and assigning every community a color based on the level of infection and spread detected by testing. The worst off communities will be assigned a “red” designation signaling a daily infection rate of more than 8 cases per 100,000 people.
Currently, four cities – Chelsea, Everett, Lynn, and Revere – fall into that highest risk category. The moderate risk “yellow” designation will mean between four and eight daily cases per 100,000 people, while “green” communities will have fewer than 4 cases and “white” communities will have had less than 5 cases in the past 14 days.
Baker said parks, playgrounds, and some businesses could be restricted or shut down in moderate- or high-risk communities if they have been shown to be contributors to higher infection rates. Local officials in trouble spots identified social gatherings without masks as their biggest challenge this summer. The Chief Executive also said communities in the “green” and “white” categories should feel good about reopening schools in the fall. “If you’re in a green or a white community, I can’t imagine a good reason not to go back, whether it’s full time or some sort of a hybrid,” the governor said.