Haverhill Comes Out of COVID-19 Red Zone with Formula Change, but Highest Among Educators

Gov. Charlie Baker wears a mask when not speaking at the podium during a Haverhill visit Nov. 7, 2020. (WHAV News file photograph.)

Haverhill returned to the yellow COVID-19 risk zone Friday, while Methuen, Lawrence, Lowell and 13 other communities remain in the highest risk designation despite the state changing what the categories mean.

Haverhill, however, had the highest number of school staff cases reported with nine, followed by Fall River’s five, according to Department of Elementary and Secondary Education data.

The state Department of Public Health Friday updated its weekly report, now showing that red communities are those with more than 25 cases if the community has a population smaller than 10,000; or at least 10 cases per 100,000 and a positivity rate of at least 5% if the population is between 10,000 and 50,000; or had at least 10 cases per 100,000 and a positivity rate of at least 4% if the population is greater than 50,000.

The new system takes population and positive test rates into account rather than just the cases per 100,000 figure that featured in the old model. Gov. Charlie Baker’s administration said the new system better captures granular changes at the local level and prevents small communities from quickly escalating through the risk levels based on a small number of confirmed cases.

Meanwhile, more than 250 new COVID-19 cases were reported in Massachusetts schools over the past week. WHAV first reported last week the six of the cases, at the Dr. Albert B. Consentino School alone, triggered the middle school reverting to remote-only learning through Thursday Nov. 12.

The total number of cases is less than the 286 logged the previous week. Billerica and Newton had the most student cases in the latest report, with six each, followed by five in Methuen.

Chris Lisinski and Katie Lannan contributed to this report.

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