coronavirus in massachusetts

Mass. Coronavirus Death Toll Rises by 14 as 288 More Cases Are Reported

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The coronavirus pandemic claimed another 14 lives in Massachusetts, health officials said Saturday, reporting 288 new cases, including confirmed and probable.

Of those deaths, all are in people with confirmed cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus. And 167 of the newly reported cases are confirmed, with the remaining 121 listed as probable.

The state's total death toll stands at 8,310 (8,095 of them confirmed) and the total number of COVID-19 cases detected at 111,398 (105,457 confirmed), according to the Department of Public Health's latest daily report.

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The Department of Public Health on Monday changed how it reports coronavirus deaths, separating confirmed and probable cases after it had combined them. The move was made to improve how it is read, bringing its report more in line with other states, for users including organizations that aggregate states' COVID-19 data, the department said.

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.

With a few exceptions, 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.

Boston is set to enter Phase 3 this coming Monday, and Mayor Marty Walsh said Friday that the city is ready to reopen "with both caution and confidence."

Somerville, which had also planned to enter Phase 3 this coming Monday, has announced it will delay entering the third phase until July 20.

Mayor Joe Curtatone said, "We're not going to rush reopening."

Somerville is the most densely populated city in New England, which is why Mayor Curtatone said they need to take a more cautious approach than the rest of the state.

Massachusetts -- once an epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States -- has dropped from having the third most cases to the eight most, as it was overtaken by states like Texas, Arizona and Florida. They're now in the midst of their own major outbreaks.

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.

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