229 New COVID Cases, 18 More Deaths in Mass. as Positive Test Rate Hits New Low

The new, more streamlined daily coronavirus report from the Massachusetts Department of Health no longer includes total probable case information

NBC Universal, Inc.

Massachusetts reported 229 new confirmed coronavirus cases Wednesday along with 18 deaths.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health has now confirmed 8,547 deaths and 113,198 cases. A closely watched metric, the percentage of coronavirus tests coming back positive, on average, is down to a new low of 1.5%, according to the report.

The release of Wednesday's numbers was delayed as a new, more streamlined report was prepared by the DPH.

"We're making these changes to both better illustrate the cumulative effect of the pandemic and to better understand the burden of the virus on Massachusetts at the current moment," Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders said at a news conference Tuesday.

The report no longer includes total probable case information, which was moved to the department's more detailed weekly report. The daily report gives the total number of deaths as 8,769, which would indicate there are 222 deaths listed as probable.

Other changes include the addition of contact tracing statistics and more details on daily testing. See the report here.

Amid rising coronavirus cases in Massachusetts, Gov. Charlie Baker identifies four communities as "high risk" that will be the focus of increased enforcement of the mask mandate and crowd control.

Sudders also said Tuesday that, due to an uptick in cases, people in hard-hit communities are being urged to wear masks when at home -- especially if they live with someone with underlying health conditions.

"Residents of these higher-risk communities should wear a mask at all times, particularly when you cannot keep six feet away from others," Sudders said.

Also on Tuesday, 33 Massachusetts communities were identified on a map to show how the coronavirus is spreading at moderate or high risk.

The map is based on the average number of cases based on population size in the last two weeks.

Gov. Charlie Baker said four high-risk communities -- Chelsea, Everett, Lynn and Revere -- will be the focus of his new COVID Enforcement and Intervention Team.

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