PEABODY, MA — Hours after the Peabody Health Department warned the city would be in the "high-risk" range for community spread of the coronavirus when the updated state numbers were announced this week, Peabody was designated in that category Thursday night.
Peabody recorded 13.1 cases of coronavirus per 100,000 residents in the state's latest weekly report. The number is well over the 8.0 cases per 100,000 the state uses to determine whether a community is "high risk" and up from 7.7 where Peabody was last week.
It was also higher than predictions as the Peabody Health Department had said the city's rate would be about 12.0 cases this week.
Peabody had 102 confirmed cases over the past two weeks with a positivity rate of 2.8 percent.
Communities with a rate of 8.0 or higher per 100,000 cases or higher for three consecutive weeks must roll back the easing of state restrictions on restaurant and store capacities, and some business reopenings, as well as potentially shift students back to fully remote learning.
"Although this increase is not entirely unexpected based on public health forecasts for a resurgence of COVID-19 this fall," Bettencourt said in a message to the community, "and based on similar increases nationwide and across many other cities and downs in Massachusetts, it does serve to remind us of the importance of remaining vigilant."
Bettencourt said schools will remain hybrid at this time.
"Thanks to the aggressive safety protocols we have in place at the Peabody Public Schools, including a very extensive contact tracing program, enhanced cleaning protocols and outstanding cooperation from students, parents, teachers and staff, we are able to continue our hybrid learning model at this time," Bettencourt said. "We will continue to monitor circumstances closely and adhere to all state guidelines relative to the safety and well-being of our school community."
There were 121 communities listed as high-risk for the coronavirus in the state's latest town-by-town data release, up from 77 the week before. The positive test rate over the last two weeks increased in 184— or 52.4 percent — of the 351 communities in the state. The rate fell in 57 — or 16.2 percent of communities and held steady in the remaining 110.
Peabody's rates exceeded the 11.8 average daily cases per 100,000 residents across the state, putting the state above the high-risk threshold for a third consecutive week. Last week, the state reported a 9.2 average of daily cases per 100,000.
More Patch Coverage: Peabody Headed For 'High-Risk' Coronavirus Status: Mayor