A COVID-19 hot spot in Framingham is being driven by gatherings, officials say. Now the city is cracking down.

"It's the parties: the graduation parties, the picnics and backyard barbecues. That's where (the positive cases are) coming from."

Licensed Vocational Nurse Blessing Iwenofu administers a coronavirus test to Alan Winn, of Framingham (L) at a free walk-up COVID-19 testing site at Amazing Things Art Center in Framingham on Sept. 8.
Licensed Vocational Nurse Blessing Iwenofu administers a coronavirus test to Alan Winn, of Framingham (L) at a free walk-up COVID-19 testing site at Amazing Things Art Center in Framingham on Sept. 8. –Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff

Coronavirus cases in Framingham have made the city one of over a dozen communities in Massachusetts considered at high risk of the contagious illness.

An average daily incidence rate higher than eight per 100,000 residents puts a community in the so-called high-risk “red zone.” Last week, the state Department of Public Health reported Framingham’s average daily incidence rate was 10.1 per 100,000 people, with 3,657 tests conducted over the previous two weeks. Of those results, 116 were positive for a positivity rate of 3.17 percent.

Mayor Yvonne Spicer told WCVB recently that officials know what’s driving the virus.

“We’re finding that it’s the gatherings,” Spicer said. “It’s the parties: the graduation parties, the picnics and backyard barbecues. That’s where (the positive cases are) coming from.”

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Officials are now issuing $500 fines to property owners who violate Gov. Charlie Baker‘s order on gatherings.

The measure limits outdoor gatherings to 50 people or less — or 25 percent of a facility’s maximum legal occupancy — and caps indoor gatherings at 25 people for a single enclosed space.

“Now is not the time for any social gathering other than your immediate household members,” the city’s Director of Public Health Dr. Sam Wong said in a statement Monday. “We need every resident to help us to stop the spread of COVID-19.”

The city currently has 108 active cases, and another 75 people are in quarantine, according to officials. As of Monday, Framingham has seen 2,123 cases, with 1,884 recoveries and 131 deaths.

According to WCVB, residents in some areas of the city have mobilized to call on landlords to take further steps — such as installing signage and enforcing rules — to help prevent the spread of the virus.

“I don’t think everyone knows how serious COVID is,” Eliana Mutz, a city resident, told the station. “I got the test done last Thursday with my family, and thank God we are negative. But I don’t think many people just check themselves.”

Mutz worked to raise awareness by organizing a tenant meeting Monday. Property owners opposed to the gathering called police, WCVB reports.

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Outreach volunteers over the weekend also handed out face masks and literature with information about COVID-19, according to the news station.

On Saturday, Spicer urged residents to heed the calls of public health experts.

“Stop the gatherings,” she said. “Secondly, put a mask on.”


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