The new coronavirus has claimed another 50 lives in Massachusetts, health officials said Saturday, as the death toll rose to 6,768.
Another 789 people have tested positive for the disease caused by the virus, COVID-19, bringing the total to 96,301, according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.
The agency's daily coronavirus report on Saturday shows the three-day average of COVID-19 deaths having leveled off in the past few days in the high 50s. But that's down 62% from April 15, when the so-called surge was in full swing.
The pace of new fatalities and cases has slowed enough for the state, one of the country's coronavirus hotspots, to begin gradually reopening. On Monday, restaurants will be allowed to start bringing back employees in preparation for reopening.
The progress through the four phases of Massachusetts' reopening plan is being paced by the data, and Baker reiterated at his news conference Friday that key metrics "keep trending in the right direction." But he also said the speed of reopening remains in Bay State residents' hands -- they must keep social distancing.
The Department of Public Health's daily report contains six indicators that are informing how fast Massachusetts can move through the four phases of its reopening plan. They 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.
None of the six indicators have changed since they launched May 18. None were trending negatively Saturday and two were trending positively: the positive test rate and the testing capacity. All the other four metrics were rated "in progress," the intermediate metric.
Massachusetts has for weeks been one of the epicenters of COVID-19 in the U.S. It has the fifth-most cases among all states and third-most deaths.
Baker and other health officials have said Massachusetts' high tallies may be due to the state testing among the most residents per capita in the country.