BOSTON — Billerica was removed from the state Department of Public Health’s weekly list of communities classified as at high risk for coronavirus transmission as the number of active COVID-19 infections statewide has hovered around the same number throughout April, while other key metrics monitored by health officials continue to tick downward.

Billerica was one of 17 communities removed from the state’s high-risk list this week, as the total number of cities and towns on the list dropped for the first time since March 4. Lowell, Chelmsford, Tyngsboro, Dracut, Littleton and Ayer remain listed as high risk, according to DPH data.

In other data released on Thursday, health officials announced 1,884 new confirmed COVID-19 cases in Massachusetts on Thursday and five new confirmed deaths. The number of confirmed cases reported by the DPH brings the total to 626,550 cases since January. The figures show there have also been 17,087 confirmed deaths from the virus statewide since the pandemic began. Another 345 deaths are classified by health officials as most likely linked to the virus.

On Thursday, the DPH announced there were 710 patients hospitalized with COVID-19, including 162 patients in intensive care units statewide and 102 patients who were intubated.

There were an estimated 35,478 active COVID-19 cases statewide as of Thursday, a slight increase from last Thursday, when the total was 35,149, but down from the April 2 case total of 37,707.

Thursday’s data has shown a statewide decreasing trend in four key health metrics compared to last week, including the seven-day average of those hospitalized with the virus. Last week, the metric’s total was 720, but dipped to 707.9 on Thursday. The seven-day weighted percent positivity rate has ticked slightly downward over the past week, reaching 2.30% on Thursday, down from 2.43% reported by health officials last week.

The seven-day average of confirmed deaths also dropped from 12.6 on April 8 to 8.1 on Thursday, which is the lowest rate it has been in more than a year. According to the DPH data, the last time the the seven-day average of confirmed deaths dropped below 8 was on March 27, 2020, when the total was 7.4.

The most significant decreasing trend over the past week was the seven-day average of COVID-19 confirmed cases, which was 1,844 last week and was measured at 1,394.9 on Thursday.

Billerica was removed from the high risk list after being added to the list just last week.

To qualify as high risk for coronavirus transmission, the DPH states communities with populations under 10,000 must have more than 25 cases of the virus. For communities between 10,000 and 50,000 people, they must have an average of at least 10 cases per 100,000 people and a positive test rate of at least 5%. For communities with a population exceeding 50,000, they must have at least 10 cases per 100,000 people and a positive test rate of at least 4%. Each category is based on the previous 14 days of data.

Billerica’s removal from the list follows an encouraging shift. Approximately two months ago, the total number of communities classified as high risk statewide was 153. The number of cities and towns on the list dropped to just 14 on March 4, according to DPH data. The number of communities classified as high risk proceeded to increase each week, reaching 76 communities as of last week’s figures. However, on Thursday, the total number classified at high risk was 61.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 73,622 new cases of COVID-19 nationwide on Thursday, bringing the total to approximately 31,231,869 million cases since the pandemic began. The CDC also announced the virus’ nationwide death toll was 561,356 as of Thursday, an increase of approximately 5,250 deaths since last Thursday.

According to the CDC, there have been 198,317,040 vaccines administered nationwide as of Thursday. About 37.9% of the population has received a first dose, while 23.6% of the population has been fully vaccinated.

Below is the total COVID-19 infections by city and town from Jan. 1, 2020, through Tuesday and how that total compares to last week’s numbers:

  • Acton – 889 (+22)
  • Ayer – 826 (+18)
  • Bedford – 825 (+25)
  • Billerica – 3,672 (+99)
  • Burlington – 1,916 (+55)
  • Chelmsford – 2,800 (+72)
  • Dracut – 3,558 (+120)
  • Dunstable – 169 (+9)
  • Groton – 499 (+8)
  • Littleton – 551 (+6)
  • Lowell – 16,567 (+427)
  • Pepperell – 498 (+10)
  • Shirley – 808 (+6)
  • Tewksbury – 3,159 (+68)
  • Townsend – 426 (+9)
  • Tyngsboro – 1,084 (+22)
  • Westford – 1,261 (+35)
  • Wilmington – 2,115 (+60)

Follow Aaron Curtis on Twitter @aselahcurtis

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