North Andover remains in 'red' zone

TIM JEAN/Staff photoAn outbreak of COVID-19 forced Merrimack College to close a dorm and quarantine more than 200 students. 

North Andover is still designated a high-risk or “red” community by the state, although COVID-19 cases have decreased in town over a recent one-week period, according to data from the state.

North Andover’s average daily incident rate fell from 34.5 positive cases per 100,000 residents to 15.6 per 100,000.

Likewise, the town’s positive test rate fell, from 1.64% to .76%.

Communities with more than eight cases per 100,000 people are designated red, or high-risk, by the state. Currently, there are 63 communities on that list.

North Andover received the red designation Sept. 30, following a COVID-19 outbreak at Merrimack College. By that time 93 students had tested positive.

During the same period, only 16 cases were reported among town residents outside of the school’s outbreak.

“I’m concerned that we are going to struggle to ever get out of the red,” said Rosemary Smedile, a member of North Andover’s Board of Selectmen. “If they (Merrimack College) are continuing to test all the time, we may never get out of the red, even though these incidents happened in Andover.”

The dormitory where the coronavirus outbreak originated at Merrimack — Monican Hall — is actually in Andover. However, the college’s cases have been attributed solely to North Andover because of the school’s mailing address.

The governor has rejected town officials’ request to change North Andover’s red designation based on the outbreak at Merrimack College, stating in a press conference earlier this week that he would not change the way cases are attributed to communities based on a few outliers.

As of Oct. 14, the state reported that 588 residents of the town have tested positive for the coronavirus. In the past two weeks, 66 people have tested positive.

A total of 41,296 tests have been administered in North Andover.

Those cities and towns considered high-risk have not been permitted to move forward into Phase 3 Step 2 of the reopening process, which allows indoor and outdoor performance venues, gyms, museums, and libraries to open capacity to 50% and permits the reopening of fitting rooms in retail stores, among other things.

 

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