Another 68 Coronavirus Deaths in Mass., 429 Newly Reported Cases

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Massachusetts has had 68 more people with the new coronavirus die, health officials said Wednesday.

Another 429 confirmed and probable coronavirus cases were reported Wednesday, bringing the total to 101,592. The death toll now stands at 7,152.

This week, the coronavirus case total jumped past 100,000 and the death toll past 7,000, due in large part to the department adding probable cases and probable deaths to the tallies.

And as of Wednesday, the state has tested nearly 615,000 people for the virus using the standard test. Tens of thousands more received antibody tests, which test a person's blood to see if they ever had the virus.

Testing has been a cornerstone of the state's coronavirus response plan. Gov. Charlie Baker instituted an innovative contact-tracing scheme that aims to alert anyone recently exposed to someone who tests positive for the virus that they should quarantine.

Gov. Charlie Baker is urging people to answer calls from the state as workers attempt to trace cases.

The data in the Department of Public Health's daily report has been driving Baker's decisions on reopening the state economy. It's currently in Phase 1, with preparations being made for when Phase 2 is possible.

The report contains six indicators that are informing how fast Massachusetts can move through the four phases of its reopening plan. They 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.

None of the six indicators were trending negatively Wednesday and two were trending positively: the positive test rate and the testing capacity. All the other four metrics were rated "in progress," the intermediate metric. None of the indicators have changed since they launched May 18.

One of the indicators that Baker has repeatedly cited is percentage of non-antibody rests coming back positive. It's dropped in recent days to roughly 5%, down dramatically from the low-30s, where it was at the height of the surge.

For months, Massachusetts been one of the epicenters of COVID-19 in the U.S. It has the fifth-most cases among all states and, after probable cases were added Monday, the third-most deaths.

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.

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