Massachusetts reported 14 newly confirmed deaths linked to COVID-19 on Saturday, bringing the total number of confirmed and probable deaths to more than 8,800 since the start of the pandemic.
The state also on Saturday reported 366 newly confirmed cases of the disease caused by the coronavirus. That brings the total number of confirmed cases to more than 114,000 in Massachusetts since the start of the pandemic.
There were 375 people reported hospitalized Saturday because of COVID-19, while 65 were in intensive care units. The number of confirmed and probable COVID-19 related deaths at long-term care homes rose to 5,645, or nearly 64% of all confirmed and probable deaths in Massachusetts attributed to the disease.
On Friday, the Department of Public Health said a reporting issue by one commercial lab over a three-day period had resulted in a disproportionate number of false positives test results. So far, 130 false-positive results have been identified. As a result, the risk factor for the disease in Taunton and Fall River has declined. The lab has stopped testing and an investigation is being conducted.
Other communities may have their numbers updated as well, but no other communities' risk level is expected to change, officials said.
State officials are reducing capacity limits at a beach in Hull over concerns of overcrowding as coronavirus cases surge in the coastal community south of Boston. The state Department of Conservation and Recreation announced Friday that parking capacity at Nantasket Beach State Reservation will be reduced to 50% until further notice. Earlier this week, state officials added Hull to the list of communities in the highest-risk category for the coronavirus. Beach towns on Cape Cod have taken similar steps to reduce crowds at the beaches this summer.
Also on Friday, Massachusetts school districts had to submit their plans for reopening schools amid the coronavirus pandemic to state education officials. Districts were required to prepare plans for three different scenarios: in-person classes, remote learning, or a hybrid of the two options. A number of districts have already said they'd focus on online classes, or a mix of in-person and remote work -- at least for the start of the academic year.
Boston, the state's largest public school system, has ruled out in-person classes, at least for the fall. The district released its hybrid and fully remote learning plans last week, and said it will make a final decision on which plan will be implemented later.
Worcester, the state's second-largest city, announced it will start the year with online classes, at least through mid-November. Springfield, the state's third-largest city, has confirmed it will take a similar approach and potentially switch to a hybrid model later in the year, as will Cambridge, Somerville and Lynn public schools.
The state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education had previously set the deadline for filing the plans for Aug. 10, but extended it to Friday.
Four employees at an elementary school in Athol, Massachusetts, have tested positive for the new coronavirus, according to the school district's superintendent.
Superintendent Darcy Fernandes sent a letter to the community on Wednesday, informing them that two employees had tested positive for COVID-19. On Friday, Fernandez said two more employees had tested positive for the virus.
The employees all work at the Athol Community Elementary School, Fernandes said, and at least two of them work in the cafeteria.
The state Department of Public Health has been notified and is in the process of doing contact tracing, Fernandes said.
Additionally, anyone who is believed to have been in close contact with the employees will be asked to quarantine and/or get tested for the virus.
In other virus-related news, Massachusetts has added Hawaii to the list of states where travelers must quarantine upon arrival. All states, except for six -- Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York and Vermont -- are now required to quarantine for 14 days, or provide a recent coronavirus test showing a negative result. Travelers are also required to provide their contact information. Failure to comply is subject to a fine of $500 per day.