Red communities jump to 11 under new Mass. virus tracking; Pittsfield still green

Seven new communities have been added to the red category under the state's new color-coded municipal measurement of COVID-19 infection and spread levels.

Fall River, Granby, Holyoke, Hull, Lawrence, Saugus and Salem were added Wednesday to the list of communities coded red, meaning they had an average of more than eight daily cases per 100,000 residents over the past 14 days.

Gov. Charlie Baker on Tuesday rolled out the new system, announcing then that four cities — Chelsea, Everett, Lynn and Revere — fell into the worst category, red, based on local public health metrics.

The seven new communities were added late Wednesday, when the Department of Public Health published its first update.

Thirty-three municipalities fell into the higher-risk yellow or red categories when Baker first announced the rankings. In Wednesday's report, that number was up to 46. the DPH plans to update the assessments each Wednesday.

Pittsfield remained colored green, indicating an average daily case rate of less than four — specifically 1.9 in the new assessment — per 100,000 over the past 14 days. Pittsfield has reported 12 new cases over the past two weeks.

All other Berkshire communities were listed as white, indicating fewer than five cases total over the same period.

While no communities that previously had red status moved to a lower-risk designation, Auburn and Belchertown dropped from yellow to green. Because the numbers are based on population, lower case counts have more impact in smaller towns.

Granby bumped into the red with a 14-day case count of seven, which brought the rate per 100,000 residents to 8.1. In Lawrence, it was 105 cases over the two-week span that pushed the rate to 8.5 per 100,000. State education officials have released guidance on how schools are expected to reopen — on an in-person, remote or hybrid model — based on their community's color designation, and Baker has said municipalities assigned red or yellow will be offered state assistance with testing, contact tracing, gathering-size enforcement and public awareness campaigns.