The surge in coronavirus infections across the Sun Belt is worrying leaders of Massachusetts cities hardest hit by the pandemic even as the first wave of cases here continues to recede.
Positive test rates declined for another week across cities with some of the highest cumulative infection rates since January — including Chelsea, Brockton, Lawrence, Everett, Lynn and Revere — according to municipal case data released weekly by the Department of Public Health.
But public officials long concerned about a second wave of infections are seeing their fears amplified as cases spike to new highs across the South and West.
“People are looking now at Arizona and Texas and Florida and saying we don’t want to see that second surge and second spike here because we’ve been able to flatten the curve,” Revere Mayor Brian Arrigo said. “Unfortunately, a second wave is going to be inevitable at some point. It’s just a matter of being vigilant.”
The number of new cases continues to drop in Revere, where the cumulative positive test rate fell to just under 21% this week from over 22% last week, according to state data. But Arrigo said he saw a spike in cases after Memorial Day weekend and voiced concern of a repeat after the Fourth of July.
“We’re monitoring the numbers really closely in anticipation of another spike, so if we see it happen we can take quick action,” Arrigo said.
In Brockton — where the positive test rate ticked down to just over 24% from 25% last week and the number of active cases was down to just 67 Wednesday from a high of some 2,900 — Mayor Robert Sullivan said surges in states further ahead in their reopenings present “a real concern.”
“We know that a second surge will come. That’s a given,” Sullivan said. “We just don’t know about the extent of it.”
The positive test rate in hardest-hit Chelsea, which has an overall infection rate of more than 7,800, fell a full percentage point to slightly under 35% this week. Lawrence saw its positive test rate drop to 22.6% from nearly 24% last week. Everett and Lynn both saw their overall positive test rates fall under 25% this week, while Boston’s dropped to 15.5% from slightly under 17%. The state’s cumulative percent positive rate ticked down to just over 12% this week from 13% last week.
Lawrence Mayor Daniel Rivera said future spikes are “absolutely” a concern with leaders from California to Florida to Texas forced to roll back their reopening plans as cases surge.
“It’s why we are trailing statewide openings by a week to 10 days in Lawrence,” Rivera said. “Having to shut back down would double the economic impact on people and businesses. We must stay vigilant at all costs.”