The state's latest statistics on the spread of COVID-19 are bad news for the Merrimack Valley -- and the rest of the state -- according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.
The DPH COVID-19 dashboard -- which provides an exhaustive look at the spread of the deadly disease all over the state -- shows that the case count this week is higher in Andover, North Andover, Haverhill, Groveland, Methuen and Lawrence.
Sixty-two communities now fall into the red category in the Department of Public Health's weekly report published Thursday, color-coded to indicate they have observed significant numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases, high positive test rates or large rates of infections per 100,000 people.
Lawrence is still in the red as it continues to be among the leaders in the state with the highest COVID-19 positive test rate of 13% -- meaning more than one in 10 residents tested are infected. That's up from 11.8% last week.
The city's total case count continues to climb, up from 7,082 last week to 7,773 this week. The case count over the last 14 days also shot up, from 1,014 to 1,328. The average daily incidence rate per 100,000 people also rose, from 82.6 to 108.
Methuen, meanwhile, also remains in the red category, with a total case count rising from 1,934 to 2,151. Over the last 14 days, the number of positive tests shot up from 280 to 387. Its positive test rate over the last 14 days rose from 6% to 7%.
The number of cases in Haverhill also rose, although it remains in the yellow category, with 2,189 total cases this week compared to 2,027 last week. The case count over the last 14 days, meanwhile, went up from 199 to 256 and the average daily incidence rate per 100,000 people rose from 21.6 to almost 28 percent.
North Andover, which has struggled with a high number of cases at Merrimack College, also saw an increase, with the total case count rising from 781 to 844; the case count in the last 14 days going up from 108 to 129.
The town's positivity rate rose from 1.2 to 1.3%. It remains in the yellow category.
In Andover, the total case count went from 565 during the reporting period that ended Nov. 11 to 682 for the reporting period that ended Nov. 18. The case count in the last 14 days also went up, from 100 last week to 181 this week.
Other metrics also increased for Andover, including the positive test rate, which rose from 1.8% to 3.12%. The numbers leaves Andover in the yellow zone for the week.
Communities across the state newly in the red are: Abington, Acushnet, Attleboro, Barnstable, Blackstone, Dartmouth, Douglas, Dracut, Edgartown, Fairhaven, Framingham, Hampden, Lancaster, Ludlow, Lunenburg, Malden, Nantucket, Northbridge, Peabody, Rehoboth, Rockland, Salisbury, Saugus, Southbridge, Southwick, Sterling, Sutton, Taunton, Templeton, Townsend, Tyngsboro, Winchendon, and Woburn.
Schools also saw a sharp rise in cases.
A total of 398 new COVID-19 cases were logged among K-12 students engaged in in-person or hybrid learning from Nov. 12-18, more than double the 191 recorded the previous week, new Department of Elementary and Secondary Education data show.
School districts, education collaboratives and special education schools reported a total of 652 new cases to the department last week, including the 398 student cases and 254 staff cases. Wakefield had the most student cases, with 15, and 142 of 400 districts reported at least one new student case. The most staff cases -- 11 -- were recorded in Lynn.
Material from the State House News Service was used in this report.