BOSTON (WGGB/WSHM) -- Governor Charlie Baker has new data that shows which Massachusetts communities are at the highest risk of contracting COVID-19.
The initiative is part of the new crackdown to stem the spread of the virus.
A color-coded map will be released weekly and indicates the average daily case rate per 100,000 residents.
This will be for all cities and towns in the state over the previous two weeks. Each city or town will be designated as a higher risk, moderate risk, or lower risk community, using colors to represent each level:
- White: Less than five reported cases
- Green: Less than four cases per 100,000
- Yellow: Four to eight cases per 100,000
- Red: More than eight cases per 100,000
Baker noted that any community that is deemed higher risk is considered, by state officials, to have a high level of COVID-19 infection and the state will be providing additional support to help address virus spread.
"We are asking families in moderate and high risk communities to avoid having big playdates and avoid big gatherings with multiple neighbors and friends, wear face coverings, and to be conscious of all the rules and guidance that have been provided by the Commonwealth and by your local board of health and by your local communities over the past few months," Baker explained.
The four cities listed as higher risk, as of August 5, include:
The governor said he hopes communities in green or white would consider returning to school in either a full time or hybrid plan.
“Gov. Baker ironically called me last night to touch base and indicated that Springfield as an urban center is doing very well with the metrics, and we're looking to do even better than we're doing, and also to continue to offer assistance on the needs I have here in the city,” Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno said.
Sarno discussed a phone call with Baker on Monday night ahead of his news conference on Tuesday.
When the governor unveiled a color-coded map system to help keep COVID-19 in check around the state, towns, and cities in red showing the highest risk, yellow-moderate risk, green-lower risk, and white-the lowest risk.
In western Mass, communities in yellow are Longmeadow, Springfield, Chicopee, Holyoke, Northampton, Granby, and Belchertown, and they are getting extra attention from the state.
“Every community is different, but this could include additional testing, tracing and isolation resources, and we're also implementing stepped-up enforcement measures and will also work with these communities on messaging and other communication strategies as we and they see fit,” Baker said.
The colors on the map are tied to the number of cases per 100,000 people.
Western Mass News spoke to Northampton's Public Health director, Meredith O’Leary, who said 62% are tied to long term health care facilities, and 8% are folks who traveled to a high-risk state.
“Officially today, I am on-boarding a COVID-compliance agent to help change the culture downtown with face mask-wearing and help with enforcement issues in businesses and we're putting out some great signs letting people know that these are mandatory masks zones," she said.
Baker also said businesses and folks need to be aware of the level of COVID-19 that exists in their communities. and how they need to play their part to help control it.
The map will be updated each Wednesday.
Western Mass News will continue to follow this story and will have more information as it becomes available.