Massachusetts has confirmed 14 new coronavirus deaths and 178 new cases Tuesday, public health officials said, as the state monitors a slight uptick in key virus metrics.
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health has now confirmed 8,331 deaths and 108,740 cases. The number of coronavirus tests coming back positive, on average, is at 1.9%, up from 1.7% this week.
There are an additional 78 probable cases listed in the department's daily COVID-19 report for Monday, adding to a total of 7,442 probable cases that have not yet been confirmed. The report listed one death among the probable cases -- there have been 220 in the state.
Massachusetts' coronavirus outbreak is much less severe than it was in mid-April, at the height of the virus' surge. Closely watched metrics like the testing rate and the average number of hospital patients with COVID-19 remain roughly 90% lower.
But the rise in positive testing rate, coupled with a pair of coronavirus clusters recently identified in Massachusetts, prompted Gov. Charlie Baker to warn Monday that, "if we let our guard down, COVID will take advantage of that."
On Tuesday, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said he was concerned about colleges and universities reopening their campuses this fall, potentially with "thousands of young people coming to our city, especially from areas around the country that are experiencing recent surges in COVID-19 cases."
Other states have been contending with massive new outbreaks that are straining their systems and prompting new shutdowns. Baker last week ordered that all travelers coming from outside the Northeast or Hawaii must quarantine for 14 days or show they've tested negative for the virus.
How Coronavirus Has Grown in Each State — in 1 Chart
New York quickly became the epicenter of the American coronavirus outbreak, along with New Jersey. Only those states had more cases than Massachusetts early on in the pandemic. But after more time passed, all three found stability while others spiked to higher case counts.
Source: The COVID Tracking Project
Credit: Amy O’Kruk/NBC
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.