3 Mass. counties have been designated medium level for COVID-19, CDC says

About 5% of counties in the country share that designation.

Kenny Holston/The New York Times, file

Three Massachusetts counties are currently at medium-level when it comes to COVID-19 in their communities, a designation they share with only about 5 percent of all counties nationwide.

Berkshire, Middlesex, and Suffolk counties — the latter of which includes Boston — are all at medium, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The rest of the state’s counties have been designated as low.

“COVID-19 Community Levels are a new tool to help communities decide what prevention steps to take based on the latest data,” according to the CDC. “Levels can be low, medium, or high and are determined by looking at beds being used, hospital admissions, and total number of new COVID-19 cases in an area.”

What it means to be in a medium-level county

In counties determined to be at medium level, the CDC urges those who could be at higher risk for becoming seriously ill to talk to a healthcare provider about potentially wearing a mask. It also asks that everyone be up to date on COVID-19 vaccines and get tested if showing symptoms.


Even before the designation, Boston officials were asking for resident to “remain vigilant,” according to The Boston Globe.

“In particular, as we approach school vacations, the Marathon, Easter, and other religious holidays, let’s use the tools — testing, masking, vaccines, and boosters — to slow the spread of COVID-19 and reduce the risk of severe infection,” the Boston Public Health Commission told the newspaper in a statement last week.

In each of the three counties, there were 200 or more cases per 100,000 people within in the last week, as of last Thursday, the Globe reported.

Nationally, CDC data shows that while cases are on the rise – as of Monday the daily average for new cases was 35,212 – deaths and hospitalizations were on a downward trend compared to last month.

“The people of Massachusetts have ready access to vaccines, rapid tests, and therapeutics — all the resources needed to stay safe from severe illness,” noted the state Executive Office of Health and Human Services in a statement released to the Globe. “The Administration will continue to work with the health care community and the federal government to monitor all of the latest developments.”

The statement cited Massachusetts’ 82 percent vaccination rate, and the resultant lower virus positivity and hospitalization rates than the rest of the country, as positive signs despite the more elevated designations in those three counties.

COVID-19 in wastewater increases

Wastewater data shows virus levels ticking up for the Boston area.


Earlier this month, Mathew Fox, a professor of epidemiology and global health at Boston University, said there could be a drastic rise in COVID-19 cases.

“I’m still optimistic that it will be a less severe wave in terms of deaths and hospitalizations,” he said at the time.

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, CDC director, said back on April 8 that 99 percent of U.S. residents were in an area with a low or medium level. Just 3.8 percent of counties were considered at medium risk at the time.

“BA.2 is estimated to now account for 72% of circulating variants in the U.S. and a handful of counties have seen increases in #COVID19 cases as well as COVID-19 Community Levels,” she said at the time.


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