Haverhill has returned to the state-designated red zone as the number of new COVID-19 infections continues to rise.
Mayor James J. Fiorentini reported Monday there were 50 new cases and seven residents hospitalized. He added city employees are becoming infected for the first time and City Hall returns to an appointment only schedule starting Wednesday, Dec. 2.
“We are seeing a lot of family infection. One person is infected, and the entire family gets sick. This is why we have consistently recommended against family gatherings. I know how difficult that is, I come from a large Italian family,” the mayor wrote on social media.
Fiorentini said restaurants have not been a major problem, but added he is instructing the city’s health inspectors to issue tickets to any business that “is knowingly violating the rules.”
Nearly a quarter of Massachusetts communities landed in the red in the latest state report. Eighty-one municipalities fell into the state’s highest danger level for the highly infectious virus in a Department of Public Health report published Friday, an increase from the 63 in last week’s version.
Besides Haverhill, Boxford, Georgetown and Merrimac are among local communities new or returning to the red designation.
At the end of October, when the Baker administration still measured risk levels based solely on average new cases per 100,000 residents, 121 communities were in the red. Officials changed the metrics starting in November, pushing up the cases per 100,000 rate to land in the red and adding positive test rate and population as factors. That switch cut the number of highest-risk communities to just 16 in the first report under the new system.