Another 17 Coronavirus Deaths, 165 More Cases Confirmed in Mass.

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Massachusetts' official coronavirus death toll rose by 17 Tuesday as 165 new cases were confirmed, health officials said.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health has now confirmed 8,231 deaths and 107,221 cases.

There are an additional 79 probable cases listed in the department's daily COVID-19 report for Tuesday, adding to a total of 6,812 probable cases that have not yet been confirmed. The report also listed no deaths among the probable cases -- there have been 219 in the state.

The Department of Public Health this month changed how it reports coronavirus deaths, separating confirmed and probable cases after it had earlier combined them. The move was made to improve how the report is read, bringing it more in line with other states, for users including organizations that aggregate states' COVID-19 data, the department said.

Massachusetts' coronavirus outbreak is much less severe than it was in mid-April, at the height of the virus' surge. Closely watched metrics like how many coronavirus tests are coming back positive and the average number of hospital patients with COVID-19 remain roughly 90% lower.

But other states around the country are contending with record-setting new outbreaks, worrying Massachusetts officials, who are urging that residents remain vigilant and continue the social distancing practices that helped rein in the outbreak locally.

How Coronavirus Has Grown in Each State — in 1 Chart

This graph shows how the number of coronavirus cases have grown in Massachusetts, in the context of the other U.S. states, dating to the early days of the pandemic. It shows how many cases have been diagnosed each day in each state since their 500th cases. Select a state from the dropdown to highlight its track.

Source: The COVID Tracking Project
Credit: Amy O’Kruk/NBC

One issue attracting attention locally is schools. On Tuesday, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh cast doubt on the notion that the city's schools would completely resume in-class learning this fall.

"Many parents want the kids back in school. We want to make sure if and when they do that it's a safe environment."

Also Tuesday, Gov. Charlie Baker announced that the state's moratorium on evictions and foreclosures was extended through mid-October.

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.

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