Most of Massachusetts, including Boston, is now considered to be at medium risk for COVID-19, according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That's a sharp reversal from just a month ago, when the entire state was in the low risk category.
Essex County is the only eastern county considered low risk, along with Berkshire and Hampshire counties in western Massachusetts.
In parts of northern New England, the news is even worse. The CDC says some areas of Maine and Vermont are now in the highest risk category.
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Massachusetts health officials reported 8,480 new COVID-19 cases and 49 new deaths in the last week, with the new data released Thursday. That's down slightly from the week before, doctors have said we can expect to see some kind of increase coming into fall. They continue to encourage people to get vaccinated to protect against the virus.
The state's seven-day average positivity was listed at 7.76% Thursday, slightly higher than last week's 7.71% number.
COVID Risk Levels Across New England
Across New England, most states have seen an increase in risk level in recent weeks as summer turned into fall.
In Maine, two counties -- Aroostook and Penobscot -- are now in the high risk category. Most of the rest of the state is medium risk, with Knox, Lincoln, Sagadahoc, Cumberland and York counties in the low risk category.
Vermont's Bennington County is high risk, with Caledonia, Lamoille, Orleans and Rutland counties at medium risk. The rest of the state is low risk.
Belknap, Carroll, Hillsborough and Merrimack counties in New Hampshire all remain medium risk, while the rest of the state is categorized as low risk.
Most of Connecticut is in the medium risk category, with only New London County considered low risk.
Rhode Island, which had seen an uptick into the medium risk category in August, continues to be entirely low risk.
Residents in counties with high risk are urged to wear masks indoors in public and on public transportation, to stay up to date with vaccines and to get tested if they have symptoms, according to the CDC.
Residents in areas with medium risk are encouraged to wear a mask if they have symptoms, a positive test or exposure to someone with COVID-19. Anyone at high risk for severe illness should also consider wearing a mask indoors in public and taking additional precautions, the CDC says.