16 More Coronavirus Deaths in Mass., 270 New Confirmed Cases

Thursday's report was published over five hours late, due in part to a federal reporting change that caused "data accuracy and integrity issues"

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Massachusetts reported Thursday that 16 people with the new coronavirus have died and 270 more cases of the virus were confirmed.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health has now confirmed 8,265 deaths and 107,683 cases.

There are an additional 57 probable cases listed in the department's daily COVID-19 report for Thursday, which was published late in day, adding to a total of 6,964 probable cases that have not yet been confirmed. The report listed no deaths among the probable cases -- there have been 219 in the state.

The Department of Public Health said it had "experienced technical difficulties and data integrity issues in reporting the data," which was released more than five hours late, because of new federal rules for reporting the data.

The report included this note: "Due to the recent change in federal hospital reporting requirements and definitions which went live July 22, data accuracy and integrity issues were experienced with today's report. DPH and the reporting hospitals are making every effort to mitigate these reporting challenges and publish corrected data in the near future. The number of hospitals using surge has not been updated today due to data integrity challenges."

Last week, the White House took over coronavirus tracking from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

White House officials are asking hospitals to bypass the nation's top health agency in a bid to take over case tracking from the CDC. Hospitals are being asked to send daily reports to a new system set up by the administration in a move that some worry could lead to further politicization of the pandemic.

Massachusetts' coronavirus outbreak is much less severe than it was in mid-April, at the height of the virus' surge. Closely watched metrics like how many coronavirus tests are coming back positive and the average number of hospital patients with COVID-19 remain roughly 90% lower.

But a coronavirus hot spot of at least 10 infections was reported this week on Cape Cod, tied to a party. And the Department of Public Health's weekly report, released Wednesday, revealed that active COVID-19 cases are on the rise in the past week and new infections are outpacing recoveries.

Officials repeatedly have urged Bay State residents not to become complacent even though the state weathered its surge this spring, noting that other states around the country are contending with massive new outbreaks that are straining their systems and prompting new shutdowns.

How Coronavirus Has Grown in Each State — in 1 Chart

This graph shows how the number of coronavirus cases have grown in Massachusetts, in the context of the other U.S. states, dating to the early days of the pandemic. It shows how many cases have been diagnosed each day in each state since their 500th cases. Select a state from the dropdown to highlight its track.

Source: The COVID Tracking Project
Credit: Amy O’Kruk/NBC

"We can't afford to see more crowded beaches like we did. If this keeps happening, we'll get outbreaks and see more restrictions being imposed," Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said Thursday, referring to beach crowding seen during the recent hot weather.

With a few exceptions, Massachusetts is now in Phase 3, the final step in its reopening plan before the so-called "new normal" is reached, when a vaccine or effective treatment will allow all COVID-19 restrictions to be eased. The state has been slowly reopening for months, monitoring for any outbreaks that would risk the progress made so far.

The six indicators informing how fast Massachusetts can move through the four phases of reopening the state are: the COVID-19 positive test rate, the number of individuals who died from COVID-19, the number of patients with COVID-19 in hospitals, the health care system's readiness, testing capacity, contact tracing capabilities. Their statuses have held steady, with half in a positive trend and half "in progress" since June 5.

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