Massachusetts health officials reported 12 new deaths and 210 additional confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, meaning the total number of cases across the commonwealth since the pandemic started has topped 108,000.
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health has now confirmed 8,291 deaths and 108,107 cases.
There are an additional 73 probable cases listed in the department's daily COVID-19 report for Saturday, adding to a total of 7,161 probable cases that have not yet been confirmed. The report listed no deaths among the probable cases -- there have been 219 in the state.
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker met briefly Saturday with Vice President Mike Pence while he visited the famous island getaway of Nantucket to headline a $25,000-ticket fundraiser for President Donald Trump administration's reelection campaign.
Pence, who heads the White House's Coronavirus Task Force, praised Baker's efforts to control the spread of COVID-19 in Massachusetts, which has among the highest death tolls from the virus in the nation, at more than 8,200.
"We're with you, and we're going to stay with you every step of the way until we put the coronavirus in the past,'' Pence said in an appearance with Baker at Nantucket Memorial Airport.
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Baker, a Republican who didn't vote for Trump in 2016 and has at times been critical of his administration's response to the pandemic, thanked Pence for his task force's work, which he said has been "enormously helpful and supportive."
He said he'd spent about an hour with Admiral Brett Giroir, who oversees coronavirus testing as Trump's assistant secretary for health, before meeting with Pence to talk about "all the things that keep me up at night" concerning the virus.
Baker on Friday announced strict new travel restrictions to control spread of the virus, including mandating anyone travelling to the state from outside the Northeast or Hawaii to self-quarantine for 14 days or show they've tested negative for the virus.
"Every traveler coming into Massachusetts, no matter where they're from, has a responsibility to help keep COVID-19 out of the Commonwealth," Baker said.
Massachusetts has been among the hardest hit states for the virus, with nearly 8,300 recorded deaths and more than 108,000 total confirmed cases since the pandemic started.
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
Pence's visit, which was greeted with a mix of curious onlookers and protests on the island off Cape Cod, came as Nantucket is seeing an increase in coronavirus cases. Local health officials say 24 of the island's total 38 cases have come in the past month, with nine of them reported in roughly the last week.
Roughly 60% of those who have tested positive on the island are in their 20s and 30s, though a man in his 80s has died, town officials said.
With a few exceptions, including Somerville, 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.
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.
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.