Massachusetts health officials reported 1,276 new confirmed coronavirus cases and 55 more deaths on Monday.
There have now been totals of 517,806 confirmed cases and 14,753 deaths in the Bay State, according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. Another 301 deaths are considered probably linked to COVID-19.
Generally, Massachusetts' coronavirus metrics have been trending down in the past several weeks, according to the Department of Public Health's interactive coronavirus dashboard, with the average number of cases, hospitalizations and deaths peaking in the second week of January. The testing rate peaked Jan. 1. The figures reported daily are important for tracking trends with the virus' spread, though a single-day change may not reflect a larger trend, and may reflect incomplete data.
The percentage of coronavirus tests coming back positive, on average, held at 2.96%. Sunday was the first time that metric was below 3% since Nov. 9, according to the dashboard.
The number of patients hospitalized for COVID-19 has ticked down to 1,387. Of that number, 329 were listed as being in intensive care units and 188 were intubated, according to health officials.
The number of estimated active cases dropped to 58,439 on Monday, from 59,162 Sunday.
Also Monday, restrictions on capacity limits were eased for restaurants, gyms and other businesses in Massachusetts. The new capacity limit of 40% went into effect at 5 a.m., after sitting at 25% since Dec. 26.
The state remains in Phase 3, Step 1 of its reopening plan, which means other restrictions are still in place. Indoor performance venues and indoor recreational businesses are still barred and restaurants must continue with table limitations of parties of six for a maximum of 90 minutes.
But another hurdle in the fight against the pandemic appears to be the variant first discovered in the United Kingdom.
A new report released Sunday said the more contagious B.1.1.7 variant is spreading quickly and could become dominant in the U.S. by late March. The study shows the U.S. is on a similar trajectory to other countries where the variant has already become prevalent.
So far, seven cases have been identified in Massachusetts and 17 in Connecticut. No cases have yet been identified in the other four New England states, according to latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.