Chelsea and three other surrounding communities were deemed on Tuesday by Gov. Charlie Baker as “high-risk” communities as the numbers of cases in Chelsea, Everett, Revere and Lynn exceeded a new case per day level.
City Manager Tom Ambrosino said cases are still very low compared to April’s surge, but the announcement was a word of warning to be safe and that the virus is still out there.
“We saw a little bit of an uptick a couple weeks ago,” he said. “Since then it has stabilized and the daily cases are in the single digits. We are substantially better than we were at the height of the pandemic here when we had more than 70 cases reported per day. The problem is the way the governor has drawn the line is eight cases per 100,000 people on a seven-day average. That means if the City of Chelsea has three cases a day now, we cross that line. We only have 40,000 people…We can have extremely low and favorable numbers in comparison to where we were and still cross that threshold.”
On Tuesday afternoon, Gov. Charlie Baker did designate Everett, Chelsea, Revere and Lynn as higher-risk communities in the state compared to elsewhere, with rates at greater than 8 per 100,000 residents.
Ambrosino said there are between 5 and 8 cases per day reported now, and that’s good and bad news.
“The good news is we’re much better off than we were,” he said. “The sobering news is the virus is still present. The face we have a handful of people infected every day means it’s still out there and dangerous. We have to keep wearing facemask, social distance, practice good hygiene and wash our hand regularly.”
Based on the average daily cases per 100,000 residents, each city or town has been designated as a higher risk, moderate risk, or lower risk community. Going forward, this information will be updated and included in the Department of Public Health’s weekly public health dashboard, which is published each Wednesday.
Any city or town designated higher risk is considered to have a high level of COVID infection, and will receive additional support from the Commonwealth to address the spread of the virus.
One of the pieces of news from the governor is that the mobile Stop the Spread testing resources will be extended to September 12. They were originally supposed to end this Friday, Aug. 14.
Ambrosino said one of the benefits of getting that designation would be more help from the state, including the increases in testing. Chelsea has had great opportunities for testing over the past several months, and that will likely continue.
“One of the consequences is we’ll get more help from the state,” he said. “We have had a lot of support already. We probably have more testing than any municipality in the Commonwealth.”
Gov. Baker said they would be providing statewide enforcement and inspections to help communities that are high-risk. The supports include:
•Targeted interventions and inspections by a range of member agencies, including Local Services, Labor Standards, DPH, MSP and ABCC, coordinated by EOPSS and MEMA.
•Increased enforcement, including fines, of sector guidance for businesses to ensure businesses and residents are aware of and following COVID-19 orders.
•Cease and desist orders as necessary for businesses and organizations in violation of the COVID-19 orders.
•Support for ABCC and local licensing boards in exercising their existing authority to fine restaurants or suspend or cancel liquor licenses when restaurants do not comply with required COVID-19 safety measure or sanitation codes.
•Targeted public messaging to alert residents of higher risk COVID communities (road signs, PSAs, reverse 911, etc.).
•Technical support to local government officials to support enhanced local COVID-19 prevention efforts such as assistance in accessing CARES Act funding.
•Potential restrictions or shutdowns for parks, playgrounds, businesses or other entities and locations believed to be contributing to the COVID-19 spread in higher risk COVID-19 communities. •Additional public health support such as testing, tracing and quarantining.