Massachusetts health officials reported more than a record 2,600 new cases of the novel coronavirus on Sunday and 70 additional deaths, as the total number of positive cases across the commonwealth topped 25,000.
The latest figures from the state Department of Public Health show the largest increase in cases over a span of 24 hours to date.
The state has been bracing for an expected surge in coronavirus cases, with the increase still expected in the coming weeks. Gov. Charlie Baker said Friday that data in recent days has suggested the peak may be closer to April 20 and is expected to be around 2,500 new coronavirus cases a day.
The state reported 2,615 new cases of the virus on Sunday, bringing the statewide total to 25,475. As many as 172,000 COVID-19 cases are anticipated at the height of the surge.
Health care workers in the cardiac care unit at Tufts Medical Center are among those working to keep up with the surge.
"It's tough, it's exhausting, but you know, this is what we signed up for," Jillian Taglieri said.
"Always busy, it's like never a dull moment," Annie Gould added.
These Boston nurses say they are thankful for those helping during this demanding time.
Fuel the Fight Boston is an organization raising money to provide meals to hospitals fighting COVID-19 while also supporting local businesses in the process.
"They're working even harder, they're working even longer hours, so I think it's really nice for them to be able to see we are thinking of them and we want to help them as much as we can," said Julia Gutierrez.
Preparing for another hectic night, Gould says, "I think my spirit is up, of course I'm scared, but because we have a lot of support, I think we can get through it, we can get through it together."
Massachusetts First Lady Lauren Baker told NBC10 Boston on Sunday that a fund launched to assist essential front line workers and other vulnerable populations across the commonwealth raised some $4 million in its first week.
Coronavirus Impact on Vulnerable Communities
More than 2,200 Massachusetts residents have been hospitalized while battling the virus. Statewide, there have been 756 deaths since the outbreak began, according to the latest DPH figures.
Nearly half of all deaths in the state -- 340, or 44% of the total -- came at long-term care facilities, health officials say.
More than 3,000 residents or health care workers at long-term care facilities have tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus. And nearly 200 long-term care facilities across the Bay State have now reported at least one coronavirus case.
In the past two weeks, there has been an alarming rise nationwide in deaths linked to coronavirus outbreaks in nursing homes and long-term care facilities.
Outbreaks have included one at a veteran's home in Holyoke, Mass., that has killed 32 veteran residents, infected 88 more and prompted a federal investigation. Seventy-eight employees at the Holyoke Soldiers' Home have also tested positive for the disease.
The facility said in a statement Sunday night there has been continued secondary testing of veteran residents as they are monitored for symptoms, and there's a 24-hour turnaround on tests in a partnership with Holyoke Medical Center and Baystate Health.
Veterans are being moved within the building to semi and private rooms in order to encourage social distancing, according to the statement, and the clinical command is also enforcing quarantine zones for COVID-19 positive residents, in addition to distributing and requiring use of personal protective equipment, restricting visitors, increasing personal hygiene measures and increasing disinfection protocols.
Experts say the true toll among those who live in such facilities is likely much higher because most state counts don't include those who died without ever being tested for COVID-19.
Dr. Deborah Birx, who leads the White House coronavirus response, suggested this past week that nursing homes should be a top priority as more testing becomes available.
"We need to really ensure that nursing homes have sentinel surveillance. And what do I mean by that? That we're actively testing in nursing homes, both the residents and the workers, at all times,'' Birx said.
The United States has the highest numbers globally, with over 547,680 cases as of Sunday and more than 21,500 deaths, according to a tally from John's Hopkins University.
The entire country is now under a major disaster declaration for the coronavirus pandemic.