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FRAMINGHAM – The Commonwealth of Massachusetts designated the City of Framingham as a high-risk community for the coronavirus yesterday,August 26. The City of Framingham was one of just nine communities designated among the 351.

Framingham had been a yellow community last Wednesday, August 19 with a rate of 5.5 for 100,000 cases. Yesterday, the City was at 8.7 for 100,000, or the 7th highest in the state for the last 14 days.

The worst in the state is the City of Chelsea with a rate for 31.9 for 100,000. Other red communities include Revere, Lynn, Everett, Lawrence, Withrop, Brockton, and Sutton.

Any community designated as a higher risk is considered to have a high level of COVID infection, and will receive additional support from the Commonwealth to address the spread of the virus, said the Baker-Polito administration.

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Earlier this month, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker announced a targeted cross-agency COVID Enforcement and Intervention Team that will be responsible for ramping up enforcement statewide and coordinating intervention efforts at the local level in these higher risk COVID-19 communities.

Member agencies include the Executive Office and Public Safety and Security (EOPSS) and the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA), who will serve as coordinators of the team, the Command Center, the Massachusetts State Police (MSP), the Department of Labor Standards (DLS), the Division of Professional Licensure (DPL), the Department of Public Health (DPH), the Division of Local Services (DLS), the Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission (ABCC) and the Executive Office of Technology Services and Security (EOTSS).

Statewide Enforcement and Intervention supports will include: 

  • Targeted interventions and inspections by a range of member agencies, including Local Services, Labor Standards, DPH, MSP and ABCC, coordinated by EOPSS and MEMA.
  • Increased enforcement, including fines, of sector guidance for businesses to ensure businesses and residents are aware of and following COVID-19 orders.
  • Cease and desist orders as necessary for businesses and organizations in violation of the COVID-19 orders.
  • Support for ABCC and local licensing boards in exercising their existing authority to fine restaurants or suspend or cancel liquor licenses when restaurants do not comply with required COVID-19 safety measure or sanitation codes.
  • Targeted public messaging to alert residents of higher risk COVID communities (road signs, PSAs, reverse 911, etc.).
  • Technical support to local government officials to support enhanced local COVID-19 prevention efforts such as assistance in accessing CARES Act funding.
  • Potential restrictions or shutdowns for parks, playgrounds, businesses or other entities and locations believed to be contributing to the COVID-19 spread in higher risk COVID-19 communities.
  • Additional public health support such as testing, tracing and quarantining.

The Spicer administration has been silent since being named a high risk community last night. They issued a press release announcing the designation but nothing else.

Yesterday, Framingham Health Director Sam Wong told SOURCE in anticipation of a “red” or high-risk designation “we plan to increase our efforts on several areas.”

Those efforts are:

  1. Continue to offer more free testing for our residents, and start to conduct targeted testing at senior housing buildings and select neighborhoods.
  2. Step up our messaging campaign on preventive measures to various segments of our community.
  3. Explore ways to step up enforcement actions on violations of state mandates.

Framingham is one of 17 communities as part of the state’s Stop the Spread campaign. As part of the program, free testing is available for residents in the community.

Framingham had a drive-thru testing site at Keefe Technical High School through last Friday, but it stopped, as Keefe Tech is preparing for the re-opening of school in -person.

Currently, there is only a walk-up (no parking) free testing site at Amazing Things Arts Center on Hollis Street (Route 135) on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3 to 6 p.m.

Wong said the City is exploring options for a new drive-thru testing site.

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By editor

Susan Petroni is the former editor for SOURCE. She is the founder of the former news site, which as of May 1, 2023, is now a self-publishing community bulletin board. The website no longer has a journalist but a webmaster.