Boston and 10 other Massachusetts cities and towns are now listed by the state as "high risk" for COVID-19 infection.
The designation is made when a community has a rate at or above eight people per 100,000 infected, averaged over 14 days. In all, 23 Massachusetts municipalities are considered "high risk" for the coronavirus.
The new communities to the list include Boston, Attleboro, Avon, Dracut, Haverhill, Lowell, Lynnfield, Methuen, Middleton, North Andover and Springfield.
Three communities — Saugus, Tyngsborough and Wrentham — were moved from high to moderate risk after experiencing a drop in their infection rates.
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh previewed the news during his press conference late Wednesday morning, saying the city would maintain the restrictions in place to try and control the spread of the virus.
“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,” Walsh said.
He also noted that half of new cases in the city were among people 29 years old or younger. Citing an increased report of large parties, he admonished people to act responsibly.
“To anyone who's hosting house parties, I'm urging you not to do it,” he said. “On Sunday when the Patriots are playing, we’re asking you not to have house parties; we’re asking you not to gather in large groups.”
Earlier this week, Gov. Charlie Baker eased restrictions in communities with low to moderate risk, provided they had not been classified as high risk for three consecutive weeks. Those communities can now adopt phase three, step two of the state's reopening plan, which increases the maximum occupancy of indoor businesses, and allows fitting rooms and other small spaces to reopen.
The following communities did not meet that requirement: Attleboro, Avon, Boston, Chelsea, Dedham, Dracut, Everett, Framingham, Haverhill, Holliston, Lawrence, Lowell, Lynn, Lynnfield, Marlborough, Methuen, Middleton, Monson, Nantucket, New Bedford, North Andover, Plainville, Revere, Saugus, Springfield, Tyngsborough, Winthrop, Worcester, and Wrentham.
The gradual increase in cases has caught the attention of several epidemiologists across the state, who have criticized Baker's decision to loosen restrictions.