A majority of Massachusetts counties have been issued “high” COVID community levels by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, up from half of all counties designated as such last week.
Suffolk, Middlesex, Norfolk, Worcester, Franklin, and Berkshire counties remained in the red, or at a “high” community level, a CDC map updated on Thursday shows.
Barnstable, Dukes, Nantucket, Essex, and Plymouth counties all rose to the “high” level this week while Bristol, Hampshire, and Hampden counties were designated a “medium” level. No counties are currently at a “low” level.
Community levels are intended to help prevent strain on the health care system by providing communities and individuals contextualized virus risk to help them make decisions.
The CDC combines three metrics to determine the levels: new COVID hospital admissions per 100,000 population in the past seven days; the percent of staffed inpatient beds occupied by COVID patients; and new cases per 100,000 population in the past week, according to the agency.
Cases and hospitalizations have been continuously on the rise in the Bay State in recent weeks.
On Thursday, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health reported 5,576 new cases, 16 newly reported deaths, and 728 hospitalized patients.
People residing in “high” level communities should wear a “well-fitting” mask when indoors in public, regardless of vaccination status, according to the CDC. The agency also advises people to “maintain improved ventilation throughout indoor spaces when possible.”
People who are immunocompromised or at high risk for severe disease should wear a mask or respirator that offers stronger protection and should consider avoiding non-essential indoor activities, among other guidance, the CDC says.
At the larger, community level, the CDC also recommends cities and towns issue “setting-specific” guidance to help prevent virus spread, as one of several steps officials could take.
Material from a previous Boston.com report was used in this story.
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