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Delayed reopening after 10 more cities deemed ‘high risk’

October 1, 2020 GMT

BOSTON (AP) — Boston and nine other communities in Massachusetts are now considered to be at “high risk” for the coronavirus, a state designation that will delay the next phase of reopening.

In all, 23 cities and towns are now in the “high-risk” category after their infection rate reached 8 or more cases per 100,000 residents.

Besides Boston, the other communities newly designated as high risk are Attleboro, Avon, Dracut, Haverhill, Lowell, Lynnfield, Methuen, Middleton, North Andover and Springfield. State health officials announced the updated list Wednesday night.

The label means those cities and towns won’t be allowed to move to the next stage of reopening on Monday. Gyms, museums and libraries will remain limited to 40% of capacity and indoor performance venues will stay closed, among other restrictions.

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Attleboro Mayor Paul Heroux said Thursday that 11 members of the city’s fire department had tested positive for COVID-19, and one was hospitalized in serious condition. They included nine firefighters and two dispatchers. The department has 94 firefighters and eight dispatchers.

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said Wednesday that young people and house parties are driving some of the increase in his city, which is home to several large universities. Half the recent cases have been among people under age 29, Walsh said, adding that an increase in complaints about noisy gatherings suggests that house parties are also playing a role.

“We want to make sure that we stop the increase before it comes to a point where we’re having the entire city shut down again,” he said.

Other cities already in the high risk category include New Bedford, Nantucket and Worcester.

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LATEST NUMBERS

State public health officials on Thursday reported more than 700 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 — the largest number for a single day since the end of May.

Officials also reported 32 new deaths, pushing the death toll in Massachusetts to at least 9,265.

Total cases surged past 130,460.