COVID-19 UpdatesHCN News & Notes

Baker-Polito Administration Releases Enhanced Community-level COVID-19 Data

BOSTON — The Baker-Polito administration has released additional data on community-level spread of COVID-19 in order to target additional resources and implement community-specific strategies to stop the spread of the virus.

Last week, Gov. Charlie Baker announced a new set of initiatives aimed at stopping the spread of COVID-19 in Massachusetts, especially in higher-risk communities that have seen a recent uptick in cases. While Massachusetts has seen an overall decrease in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations since May, there has been a slight uptick in certain communities in recent days.

The administration has released data on the average daily cases per 100,000 residents, average percent positivity, and positive tests for all 351 Massachusetts cities and towns over the last two weeks. Based on the average daily cases per 100,000 residents, each city or town has been designated as a higher-risk, moderate-risk, or lower-risk community. Going forward, this information will be updated and included in the Department of Public Health’s weekly public-health dashboard, which is published each Wednesday. Click here to view a map with these designations by community.

Any city or town designated higher-risk is considered to have a high level of COVID-19 infection, and will receive additional support from the Commonwealth to address the spread of the virus.

Last week, Baker also announced a targeted cross-agency COVID Enforcement and Intervention Team that will be responsible for ramping up enforcement statewide and coordinating intervention efforts at the local level in these higher-risk COVID-19 communities. Those efforts will include: 

• Targeted interventions and inspections by a range of member agencies;

• Cease-and-desist orders for businesses and organizations in violation of the COVID-19 orders;

• Support for local and state officials in exercising their authority to fine restaurants or suspend or cancel liquor licenses when restaurants do not comply with required safety measures; 

• Targeted public messaging (like road signs and PSAs) to alert residents of higher-risk COVID communities;

• Technical support to local government officials to support enhanced local COVID-19 prevention efforts, such as assistance in accessing CARES Act funding;

• Potential restrictions or shutdowns for parks, playgrounds, businesses, or other entities believed to be contributing to COVID-19 spread in higher-risk communities; and

• Additional public-health support, such as testing, tracing, and quarantining.