Massachusetts health officials reported 3,750 new confirmed COVID-19 cases and another 67 deaths on Sunday, one day before the state is set to ease some restrictions related to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
There have now been 475,925 confirmed cases and 13,844 deaths, according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. There are also 289 deaths are considered probably linked to COVID-19.
The percentage of coronavirus tests coming back positive, on average, continued to fall for another straight day, sinking to 4.85% from 5.51% on Friday, the department said.
The number of patients hospitalized for COVID-19 fell below 2,000 to 1,946. Of those hospitalized with the virus, 409 were listed as being in intensive care units and 286 are intubated, according to health officials.
The number of estimated active cases also declined to 91,507.
Gov. Charlie Baker is set to ease some coronavirus-related restrictions on Monday, including lifting a curfew for all businesses and the state's stay-at-home advisory, which asks people to stay home between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.
Businesses that will be able to stay open past 9:30 p.m. include health clubs, movie theaters, casinos and more. Capacity limits will still exist, however.
Additionally, liquor stores and other establishments that sell alcohol, as well as adult use cannabis retailers, will be allowed to sell those products past 9:30 p.m.
Gatherings and events may continue past that time as well, but remain subject to current capacity limits of 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors.
More on the Coronavirus in Massachusetts
The announcement comes as health officials say the state's COVID-19 data looks encouraging. Hospitalizations are down 10 percent since early January, while the average positivity test rate is down 33 percent.
In addition, more health care workers have been made eligible for Phase 1 of the state's COVID-19 vaccine rollout, including dentists, medical and nursing students, physical therapists, hospital interpreters, behavioral health clinicians and more.
Funeral workers in Massachusetts are asking to be included in the first phase of the state's COVID-19 vaccination plan, but so far state officials have resisted the request. C.R. Lyons, a Danvers funeral director and president of the Massachusetts Funeral Directors Association, said he was "dumbfounded" by the decision, The Telegram & Gazette reported.
The funeral association has been lobbying Baker to bump about 1,900 funeral workers into the first phase of vaccinations, noting that many other states have done so and funeral workers are the only COVID-19-facing workers in the state not currently in the first phase.
Funeral workers are caring for bodies of COVID-19 victims every day, requiring them to regularly visit COVID-19 wings of hospitals and nursing homes, they said. Many funeral workers have become sick with the virus, Lyons said.
A spokesperson for the state COVID-19 Command Center in a statement said the current plan is based on the recommendations of an advisory group made up of health professionals, community leaders and local officials, and that the funeral business was moved from phase three to phase two on Jan. 12.