Massachusetts confirmed eight new deaths and 1,128 more coronavirus cases Saturday, as the numbers from the Department of Public Health show a continued increase in the number of cases being reported in the state this fall.
The cases reported Saturday mark the first time the state has crossed the 1,000 mark since May 24, and the most in a single day in the commonwealth since May 16, when 1,152 new cases were confirmed.
There have now been 9,616 confirmed deaths and 146,023 cases, according to the Department of Public Health. The percentage of coronavirus tests coming back positive, on average, ticked up slightly to 1.5%, according to Saturday's report.
The total number of coronavirus deaths in the daily COVID-19 report, however, is listed as 9,839, which would indicate that there are 223 deaths that are considered probably related to the virus at this time.
The number of patients hospitalized for COVID-19 decreased slightly to 551. Of that number, 114 were listed as being in intensive care units and 45 are intubated, health officials said.
Saturday's new numbers come as the pandemic is accelerating at a pace not seen since the summer. On Friday, the United States set a daily record for coronavirus cases when nearly 78,000 infections were reported. Friday's 77,993 cases, as tallied by NBC News, topped Thursday's 77,640. The previous high of 75,723 was set July 29.
The nation's top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, has warned that the nation is in a "precarious" place with the weather turning colder and more people congregating inside.
More on Coronavirus in Mass.
With coronavirus cases rising across must of the country, including here in Massachusetts, a Harvard epidemiologist says we're headed toward what he calls "a perfect and terrible storm" because the pandemic will overlap with the flu season in the coming months.
“These viruses normally spike in November, December January. And they usually spike coming into the winter with very, very few cases,” Dr. Michael Mina said. "We run a serious risk of greatly overburdening our intensive care units, our hospitals and our medical establishments so that we no longer can necessarily treat the patients that really need to be treated the most.”
The flu overwhelmed many Boston hospitals last winter and that was before COVID-19 spread like wildfire throughout the nation, infecting more than 146,000 in Massachusetts alone.
“We are seeing coronavirus cases increase to very high numbers and we worry that the same behaviors that are leading that to happen will probably also continue to allow flu to spread as well," Mina said.
It is possible that both viruses -- COVID-19 and the flu -- could infect someone at the time, Mine says, though he suspects that those cases will be rare.
In Winthrop, residents are being urged to get tested after the town identified two COVID-19 clusters, the health director said Saturday.
Twenty-two new cases of the virus have been tied to social events, as of Saturday, town officials confirmed. Anyone who visited either the Winthrop Elks or the Pleasant Park Yacht Club between Oct. 15-18 is asked to quarantine and get tested for COVID-19.
“It’s vital that anyone who visited either establishment during that time period to get tested as soon as possible and stay home until you receive your results,” Public Health Director Meredith Hurley said in a statement. “We take matters like this seriously, and will continue to work diligently with state public health officials to complete the contact tracing process."
Health officials are urging community members to take part in free COVID-19 testing being offered at the McKenna Basketball Courts, located at 5 Walden St. Testing is available at this location on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 2-7 p.m. (drive-through), and Tuesday and Thursday from 2-7 p.m. (walk-up).
Winthrop is one of nearly 80 communities in the state that has been designated as a red zone, meaning it is at the highest risk for transmitting COVID-19, according to the DPH’s weekly report released Thursday.
The average daily incidence rate for the Town of Winthrop per 100,000 residents is 10.6, data showed. Any number over 8 leads to a “red” designation.
See the weekly Massachusetts town-by-town coronavirus risk map here.