By Christina Hager

WALTHAM (CBS) – The number of communities considered high-risk hot spots for COVID-19 nearly doubled this week on Massachusetts’ color-coded map of virus rates. It brings the total to 40 cities and towns in the red zone.

“Basically people get a little relaxed,” said Waltham Mayor Jeannette McCarthy. Waltham is among 19 communities that moved into the red Wednesday night. “Parties and gatherings that do not meet the state guidelines have got to stop,” she said.

Cities and towns that are now considered high-risk are: Acushnet, Amherst, Attleboro, Avon, Boston, Brockton, Chelmsford, Chelsea, Dartmouth, Dracut, Dudley, Everett, Framingham, Haverhill, Holyoke, Hudson, Kingston, Lawrence, Leicester, Lowell, Lynn, Malden, Marlboro, Methuen, Middleton, Nantucket, New Bedford, North Andover, Plymouth, Randolph, Revere, Southboro, Southbridge, Springfield, Sunderland, Waltham, Webster, Winthrop, Woburn and Worcester.

“As people gather in smaller spaces indoors with less ventilation there’s more opportunity for spread,” said Dr. Daniel Kuritzkes, Chief of Infectious Diseases at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “I think it’s likely that we will continue to see more cases. We will also see more cases of influenza beginning to appear, and because we can’t distinguish them clinically, that’s just going to be many more people coming for medical care,” he said.

“I was very surprised to see that,” said Brenda Lathigee, a longtime resident of Woburn, which also moved to the red category this week. Another resident, Jon Ford, said it makes sense. “It’s directly next door to 128 and I-95, and there are several shopping malls in the area, so I’m not at all surprised by that,” he said.

In Waltham, Mayor McCarthy said she’s especially concerned about the upcoming Columbus Day weekend. “It’s a great, great weekend to be off and everything, but you’ve got to remember, keep that mask on.”

Christina Hager

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