222 Massachusetts cities and towns at high risk for coronavirus transmission, down from last week

The number of Massachusetts cities and towns at high risk for COVID-19 transmission declined this week for the first time since early November as state and local officials expressed hope that cases and hospitalizations were heading in the right direction “for the first time in a long time.”

See the city and town stats.

There were 222 communities in the high-risk “red” zone this week, down from 229 last week — the first such decline since the state revamped its metrics in early November.

It’s a slight dip that coincides with Gov. Charlie Baker’s decision to lift the 9:30 p.m. curfew on restaurants and other businesses beginning on Monday and rescind the state’s overnight stay-at-home order.

“We all know that we are not out of the woods yet by any means, but things do appear to be getting a bit better in Massachusetts,” Baker said, noting that several metrics the state watches closely are heading in positive directions “for the first time in a long time.”

But the number of high-risk cities and towns remains significantly elevated from the 16 communities that were in the red in early November when the Department of Public Health recalibrated its weekly metrics to focus on both positivity rates and population-based case averages. And it’s higher than the 219 high-risk cities and towns reported just two weeks ago.

Boston remained in the red this week, as did several other of the state’s largest cities. Both Boston and Worcester have shown improvement in their positivity rates and numbers of new cases in recent days as the state appears to be moving past the worst of its post-holiday surge. But hospitals remain strained in both cities.

Worcester Medical Director Dr. Michael Hirsh said in a press conference that both of his city’s hospital systems, Saint Vincent and UMass Memorial, have reached an “encouraging” plateau.

“It hasn’t shown a decrease yet, but we have leveled off and the hope is that if that trend continues and we start to see a drop-off that we really might be kind of at the end of the crest,” Hirsh said.

But in Brockton — where the average daily incidence rate per 100,000 residents rose over the two-week period ending Saturday even as the city’s positivity rate declined — Mayor Robert Sullivan said hospitalizations remain “really high.”

“They haven’t seen it this high since last May,” Sullivan said, adding, “It’s still catastrophic here in the city of Brockton and the commonwealth and the nation.”

Here are the 222 cities and towns at high risk for COVID-19 transmission:

Abington, Acushnet, Adams, Agawam, Amesbury, Andover, Ashburnham, Ashby, Ashland, Athol, Attleboro, Auburn, Avon, Ayer, Barnstable, Barre, Belchertown, Bellingham, Berkley, Berlin, Beverly, Billerica, Blackstone, Boston, Bourne, Boxboro, Boxford, Boylston, Braintree, Brewster, Bridgewater, Brimfield, Brockton, Brookfield, Burlington, Canton, Carver, Charlton, Chatham, Chelmsford, Chelsea, Chicopee, Clinton, Cohasset, Dalton, Danvers, Dartmouth, Dedham, Deerfield, Dennis, Dighton, Douglas, Dover, Dracut, Dudley, Duxbury, East Bridgewater, East Brookfield, East Longmeadow, Easton, Edgartown, Everett, Fairhaven, Fall River, Falmouth, Fitchburg, Foxboro, Framingham, Franklin and Freetown.

Gardner, Georgetown, Gloucester, Grafton, Granby, Great Barrington, Groveland, Hadley, Halifax, Hamilton, Hampden, Hanover, Hanson, Harwich, Hatfield, Haverhill, Holbrook, Holden, Holliston, Holyoke, Hopedale, Hudson, Hull, Ipswich, Kingston, Lakeville, Lancaster, Lawrence, Lee, Leicester, Leominster, Littleton, Lowell, Ludlow, Lunenburg, Lynn, Lynnfield, Malden, Manchester, Mansfield, Marion, Marlboro, Marshfield, Mashpee, Mattapoisett, Maynard, Medford, Medway, Merrimac, Methuen, Middleboro, Middleton, Milford, Millbury, Millis, Monson, Nahant, Nantucket, New Bedford, Newbury, Norfolk, North Andover, North Attleboro, North Brookfield, North Reading, Norton, Norwell, Norwood, Oak Bluffs, Orange and Oxford.

Palmer, Paxton, Peabody, Pembroke, Pepperell, Pittsfield, Plainville, Plymouth, Plympton, Quincy, Randolph, Raynham, Reading, Rehoboth, Revere, Rochester, Rockland, Rockport, Rowley, Rutland, Salem, Salisbury, Sandwich, Saugus, Scituate, Seekonk, Shirley, Shrewsbury, Somerset, Southampton, Southboro, Southbridge, Southwick, Spencer, Springfield, Sterling, Stoneham, Stoughton, Stow, Sturbridge, Sunderland, Sutton, Swampscott, Swansea, Taunton, Templeton, Tewksbury, Tisbury, Topsfield, Townsend, Tyngsboro, Upton, Uxbridge, Wakefield, Walpole, Waltham, Ware, Wareham, Warren, Webster, Wenham, West Boylston, West Bridgewater, West Brookfield, West Newbury, West Springfield, Westfield, Westford, Westminster, Westport, Westwood, Weymouth, Whitman, Wilbraham, Wilmington, Winchendon, Winthrop, Woburn, Worcester, Wrentham and Yarmouth.

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