Massachusetts confirmed 24 new deaths and 1,097 more coronavirus cases Sunday, marking the second straight day the state has announced more than 1,000 new COVID-19 cases.
The high case numbers two days in a row from the Department of Public Health -- the likes of which haven't been seen since mid May -- continue to show a marked increase in the number of cases being reported in the state this fall.
There have now been 9,640 confirmed deaths and 147,120 cases, according to the Department of Public Health. The percentage of coronavirus tests coming back positive, on average, remained at 1.5%, according to Sunday's report.
The total number of coronavirus deaths in the daily COVID-19 report, however, is listed as 9,864, which would indicate that there are 224 deaths that are considered probably related to the virus at this time.
The number of patients hospitalized for COVID-19 decreased slightly to 538. Of that number, 109 were listed as being in intensive care units and 45 are intubated, health officials said.
Sunday's new numbers come as local medical experts continue to warn about rising COVID cases in the state. One Harvard epidemiologist says Massachusetts is headed toward what he calls "a perfect and terrible storm" because the pandemic will overlap with the flu season in the coming months.
More on Coronavirus in Mass.
Gov. Charlie Baker said last week that young adults are driving the largest chunk of growth in COVID-19 positive test rates amid a statewide uptick in transmission, prompting the administration to renew its warnings against large gatherings and other unregulated social activity.
As state and local officials ramp up enforcement of public health protocols, Baker said Tuesday that most of the recent growth in infections has come not from dining or other public activities, but from "informal events and social gatherings."
"Those are the places and spaces where, if people are asymptomatic, they will give it to somebody else if neither of them are wearing a mask and they're engaged in close contact over an extended period of time," Baker said. "That's exactly what happens when people get together to have a house party or a backyard party or some other celebration -- the kinds of stuff we used to do, once upon a time, as a matter of course almost every weekend."
The state's COVID enforcement team in recent weeks has observed private parties bringing together dozens or hundreds of people -- often young -- in close quarters and with spotty use of masks, according to Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders.
See the weekly Massachusetts town-by-town coronavirus risk map here.
In Marblehead, the public high school has switched to full remote learning effective immediately after police were called to a house party where young people had gathered and were ignoring all coronavirus precautions, the superintendent announced Sunday.
Party attendees were sharing drinks and were not practicing social distancing or wearing face coverings at the Friday night gathering, Marblehead Superintendent John Buckey said in a letter to district families.
"I understand young people’s desire to be together, as far away from adults as possible. In choosing to ignore the rules set down by the Governor and our community in the pandemic, however, we are not just endangering individuals… we are also potentially harming the community at large," Buckey said. "This isn’t just a school conversation. This is a community conversation. And the bottom line is that what we don’t know about this situation absolutely CAN hurt us."