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MASSACHUSETTS — The Massachusetts Department of Health designated 192 cities and towns as high risk for the coronavirus in the latest community-level report Thursday, down 30 from last week.
The seven-day average positive test rate for the state fell to 4.44 percent, down a percentage point over the last week. Statewide case counts, hospitalizations and deaths also all fell over the last week, although all measures remained far above the lows over the summer.
The state is preparing to expand vaccine eligibility to all people over 75 beginning Monday, but Gov. Charlie Baker acknowledged a "very frustrating day" on the first day of registration Wednesday.
Baker said that 10,000 appointment spots at the mass vaccination sites in Danvers and Springfield were "booked within hours" and 40,000 openings for the Fenway Park and Gillette Stadium sites released Thursday morning were booked by noon. He said 15,000 additional spots in Danvers and Springfield were "being booked" as of midday Thursday.
The state will post openings for the mass vaccination sites on Thursdays each week with the smaller sites posting them daily as they become available.
In addition, the state lifted its stay-at-home advisory and an order requiring most businesses to close by 9:30 p.m. Monday, the beginning of what might be a slow return to some semblance of normalcy for businesses. But a 25 percent capacity limit for most businesses will be in place at least another two weeks.
While COVID-19 numbers have improved in recent weeks, they are still significantly higher than when the stay-at-home advisory was instituted in the late fall. In early November, the positive test rate was below 3 percent; there were fewer than 2,000 new daily cases on average and about 20 average daily deaths.
There were 4,222 new confirmed cases and 43 deaths Thursday.
The seven-day average of hospitalized patients was 1,878, down from 2,152 a week prior. There were 442 patients in intensive care.
The town-by-town report labeled 192 Massachusetts communities as high risk for the virus, down from 222 last week; the full list can be found at the end of this article.
The positive test rate over the last two weeks fell in 280 — or 79.8 percent — of the 351 communities in the state. The rate rose in 51 — or 14.5 percent — of communities and held steady in the remaining 20. Two-week confirmed case counts rose in just 44 communities.
There were 59.4 average daily cases per 100,000 residents of the state over that period, down from 75.5 last week.
To date, there have been 488,861 cases and 14,056 confirmed deaths statewide since the pandemic began. Officials estimate that there were 78,171 active cases as of Thursday.
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Health officials say positive coronavirus test results need to stay below 5 percent for two weeks or longer and, preferably, be closer to 2 percent, for states to safely ease restrictions. The number of communities reporting rates above 5 percent fell to 197, from 234 last week.
Just one town, Mount Washington, reported a positive test rate above 15 percent. Thirty-nine reported test rates below 2 percent.
The state reported 116,963 new tests Thursday, bringing the total to 13.3 million.
The data includes coronavirus cases for all Massachusetts communities, except for those with populations under 50,000 and fewer than five cases. The department said the stipulation was designed to protect the privacy of patients in those towns and cities.
The state releases town-by-town testing data every Thursday, including the number of people tested, the testing rate, the positive test rate, cases and infection rates.
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How to use this map: Zoom in on the map below and click on a pin to see that community's coronavirus case data. You can also view the town-by-town coronavirus data in the spreadsheet we used to create this map.
The map does not include 1,433 of the state's cases because state health officials could not determine which communities the patients lived in.
Pin colors correspond to the state's risk designations. Red pins are high-risk, or red, communities. Yellow pins are medium risk, green pins low risk and grey pins at most 15 total cases.
High-risk communities: Abington, Acushnet, Adams, Agawam, Ashburnham, Attleboro, Auburn, Avon, Ayer, Barnstable, Barre, Belchertown, Bellingham, Berkley, Berlin, Billerica, Blackstone, Boxford, Boylston, Braintree, Brewster, Bridgewater, Brockton, Burlington, Canton, Carver, Chatham, Chelmsford, Chelsea, Chicopee, Clinton, Cohasset, Dalton, Dartmouth, Dedham, Dennis, Dighton, Douglas, Dover, Dracut, Dudley, Duxbury, East Bridgewater, East Longmeadow, Easton, Edgartown, Everett, Fairhaven, Fall River, Falmouth, Fitchburg, Foxborough, Framingham, Franklin, Freetown, Gardner, Georgetown, Gloucester, Grafton, Granby, Great Barrington, Groveland, Hadley, Halifax, Hamilton, Hampden, Hanover, Hanson, Harwich, Haverhill, Holbrook, Holden, Holyoke, Hopedale, Hudson, Hull, Ipswich, Kingston, Lakeville, Lancaster, Lawrence, Lee, Leicester, Leominster, Littleton, Lowell, Ludlow, Lunenburg, Lynn, Malden, Manchester, Mansfield, Marion, Marlborough, Marshfield, Mashpee, Mattapoisett, Maynard, Medway, Merrimac, Methuen, Middleborough, Middleton, Milford, Millbury, Millis, Monson, Nahant, Nantucket, New Bedford, Newbury, North Attleborough, North Brookfield, Norton, Norwood, Oak Bluffs, Orange, Orleans, Oxford, Palmer, Paxton, Peabody, Pembroke, Pepperell, Plainville, Plymouth, Plympton, Quincy, Randolph, Raynham, Rehoboth, Revere, Rochester, Rockland, Rockport, Rowley, Rutland, Salem, Salisbury, Sandwich, Saugus, Scituate, Seekonk, Sharon, Shirley, Shrewsbury, Somerset, Southampton, Southborough, Southbridge, Southwick, Spencer, Springfield, Sterling, Stoughton, Sturbridge, Sutton, Swansea, Taunton, Templeton, Tewksbury, Tisbury, Topsfield, Townsend, Tyngsborough, Upton, Uxbridge, Wakefield, Walpole, Waltham, Ware, Wareham, Warren, Webster, West Boylston, West Bridgewater, West Brookfield, West Springfield, Westfield, Westford, Westminster, Westport, Weymouth, Whitman, Wilbraham, Wilmington, Winchendon, Winthrop, Woburn, Worcester, Wrentham and Yarmouth.