COVID Death Toll Surpasses 9,500 in Mass.; 21 More Deaths, 550 New Cases Reported

There have now been 9,503 confirmed deaths and 139,903 cases, according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

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Massachusetts surpassed 9,500 coronavirus deaths on Saturday as state health officials announced 21 more deaths and 550 new cases of the virus.

There have now been 9,503 confirmed deaths and 139,903 cases, according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. The percentage of coronavirus tests coming back positive, on average, has decreased slightly to 1.3%, according to the report.

The total number of coronavirus deaths in the daily COVID-19 report, however, is listed as 9,723, which would indicate there are 220 more deaths that are considered probable at this time.

The number of patients hospitalized for COVID-19 has decreased slightly to 500 but more people were listed in intensive care units in Saturday's report. Of 88 people in the ICU, 36 are intubated, according to DPH.

The new numbers come Saturday as the most recent change under the state's travel order takes effect.

People traveling from California, Hawaii, New Jersey and Washington are no longer required to quarantine upon arriving in the Bay State.

It's the first change under the Massachusetts travel order in two weeks.

The DPH announced Friday that those four states had been cleared for quarantine-free travel, and they also announced a slight tweak to its criteria for travel risk.

To be included on the list of low-risk states, they must have fewer than 10 average daily cases per 100,000 people. That's up from the previous metric of 6 average daily cases per 100,000 people.

The full list of states currently deemed to be low risk is California; Connecticut; Washington, D.C.; Hawaii; Maine; New Hampshire; New Jersey; New York; Vermont and Washington.

Rhode Island remains the only New England state not on the list.

Shortly after the new numbers were released Saturday, three more New England Patriots were reported to have been added to the Reserve/COVID-19 list.

ESPN's Field Yates reported that running back Sony Michel, guard Shaq Mason and defensive end Derek Rivers are all being placed on the COVID list. That does not necessarily mean that they have tested positive for the coronavirus; they could have just been exposed to someone who has.

The Patriots' practice facility reopened Saturday and the team was reportedly preparing to play its twice-postponed game against the Broncos, which is said to be still on as scheduled, according to the NFL Network's Tom Pelissero.

The NFL is aware of the situation, Pelissero reported.

A Patriots spokesman said the team would proceed with its walkthrough, but all meetings would be virtual.

The Patriots canceled practice Friday and later placed center James Ferentz on the Reserve/COVID-19 list.

The Broncos had coronavirus news of their own Saturday. Running backs coach Curtis Modkins has tested positive and won't make the trip to New England. He is in isolation and has no symptoms.

Practice was canceled days before the Patriots game that was already rescheduled due to COVID-19 cases.

New England already had the Week 5 matchup -- originally scheduled for Oct. 11 -- against Denver postponed following four earlier positive coronavirus tests by players, including quarterback Cam Newton and cornerback Stephon Gilmore.

Gilmore, the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, and Newton returned to practice this week for the first time since testing positive for the virus. Newton missed New England's loss at Kansas City on Oct. 5 after his Oct. 2 positive test. He was activated from the reserve/COVID-19 list on Wednesday. Gilmore, who tested positive on Oct. 7, was activated from the list Thursday. Practice-squad player Bill Murray also returned from the COVID-19 list Thursday.

Defensive tackle Byron Cowart, who tested positive on Oct. 11, was joined on the list by Ferentz, Michel, Mason and Rivers.

The Broncos haven't played since Oct. 1. If they play Sunday, they'll have had 16 days between games, one day longer than Tennessee's layoff before the Titans beat Buffalo on Tuesday night following the NFL's first COVID-19 outbreak, which affected two dozen members of the organization.

Denver's layoff is the longest in the league since 2001, when the NFL postponed all games on the weekend following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

The Patriots are scheduled to play the Broncos at 1 p.m. Sunday at Gillette Stadium.

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