Massachusetts' Coronavirus Death Toll Surpasses 4,000; 1,824 New Cases

Long-term care facilities in Massachusetts have accounted for nearly 60% of all coronavirus-related deaths in the state

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Massachusetts on Sunday reported 158 additional deaths from the coronavirus outbreak, as the total number of cases in the state rose by 1,824.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health reported that 4,004 people have now died and 68,087 have tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

The hospitalization rate -- the percentage of coronavirus-positive patients in the hospital -- remained at 5% on Sunday, amid a slow but steady downward trend of that figure.

The number of people in intensive care units ticked down to 904, continuing a downward trend. There are 3,617 people in the hospital with COVID-19, a slight increase from the number reported Saturday.

While Middlesex County has the most deaths in Massachusetts, with 972, Hampden County has its highest death rate, 84 per 100,000 residents. That's followed by Norfolk (77 per 100,000), Suffolk (72 per 100,000) and Essex (63 per 100,000) counties.

Middlesex County continues to have the most coronavirus cases, with 15,370, followed by Suffolk at 13,777, Essex at 9,542 and Norfolk at 6,280. But Suffolk County leads the way in terms of cases per capita, with 1,696 cases per 100,000 residents.

Long-term care facilities in Massachusetts have accounted for nearly 60% of all coronavirus-related deaths in the state, one of the highest publicly reported rates in the country.

Citing data from the Kaiser Family Foundation, The Boston Globe reports Rhode Island appears to have the highest rate in the nation, at about 71%, followed by Massachusetts.

About 41,000 people are living in nursing and rest homes in Massachusetts.

The state has reported much higher daily testing numbers since April 23 than it had beforehand, and that's been accompanied by a lower percentage of people who tested positive for the virus -- one of the many statistics Gov. Charlie Baker is watching as he weighs when to ease the restrictions on movement and businesses in Massachusetts.

Massachusetts is one of the many states in the nation not testing their populations at the daily rate recommended by Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, and his colleagues, according to The Associated Press. The Harvard team developed their statistics in mid-April and noted that projections for U.S. cases have increased since then.

Jha and his colleagues based their testing targets, in part, on the number of tests needed to screen enough people to push positive results below 10%, the level that the World Health Organization considers sufficient to contain the outbreak. More than 16% of U.S. tests nationwide are positive for the virus, according to figures compiled by the COVID Tracking Project website. That compares with a rate of about 3% in South Korea, a country praised for its aggressive testing.

State parks in Topsfield, Princeton and Saugus closed as they maxed out their capacity Saturday during the nice weather.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker on Friday announced that all residents will be required to wear masks or other face coverings when in public and unable to maintain social distancing starting May 6.

"This is going to be a way of life," Baker said at his daily news briefing.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

NBC/Associated Press
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