Hours after Gov. Charlie Baker announced that Massachusetts would be moving to Step 2 of the second phase of its reopening plan, health officials announced that 30 more people with the coronavirus died in the state and 228 more cases were detected.
Friday's COVID-19 report from the Department of Public Health's showed that Massachusetts' death toll has risen to 7,800, with 106,650 people in total testing positive for the virus.
Baker's announcement that the state can step forward in the reopening process comes as it sees progress in those daily reports since the surge of coronavirus cases in April. Deaths and new cases detected are down dramatically, as are other key metrics.
On Wednesday, the population of coronavirus-positive patients in Massachusetts hospitals dropped below 1,000 people for the first time since the surge. Friday's report showed the metric ticking up by 26, but it still left the total at 994.
"Keep in mind that COVID doesn't take the summer off," Baker said Friday, sounding a note of caution even as Massachusetts made progress. "We're reopening and containing COVID, but it only works when everybody does their job to slow the spread."
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.
The second step of Phase 2 of the state's 4-phased reopening plan allows indoor dining to being, increases capacity at offices from 25% to 50% and allows retailers to open fitting rooms, though by appointment only.
For months, Massachusetts has been one of the epicenters of COVID-19 in the U.S. It has the fifth-most cases among all states and the third-most deaths, but the state is now in Phase 2 of its reopening plan, which sees many businesses able to reopen their doors, though with restrictions.
Baker and other health officials have said Massachusetts' high tallies may be due to the state testing among the most residents per capita in the country.