Another 76 people in Massachusetts with COVID-19 have died, health officials said Saturday, reporting another 773 new confirmed cases.
Saturday's report from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health brought the total number of coronavirus deaths in the state to 6,304 and the total people who have tested positive to 91,662.
While the total numbers of fatalities and infections continue to rise, they've been doing so more slowly in the last few weeks than this time in April, a sign that the state has flattened the curve. The number of people dying each day is down to half of what the state was seeing on April 15.
Other metrics have been showing promising signs as well -- the state on Thursday received its 500,000th coronavirus test result -- but Gov. Charlie Baker urged Massachusetts residents on Friday not to give up all the gains they've made by gathering this Memorial Day weekend without taking adequate precautions, like wearing face masks and staying physically and socially distant from others, even family and friends.
"Now we can start talking about a gradual, careful, data-driven, phased reopening," Baker said. "Don't let a few nice days step on that. We need to continue to make the kind of progress we all made in battling this thing over the past two or three months.
The Department of Public Health's 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.
Once again, none of the six indicators was trending negatively Saturday, and two were trending positively: the positive test rate and the testing capacity. All of the other four metrics were rated "in progress," the intermediate metric.
The number of people with coronavirus in the state's hospitals continues to steadily decline, according to Saturday's report, which had it dropping by 86.
Middlesex County, the most populous county in Massachusetts, topped 1,500 deaths in Saturday's report. Hampden County continues to have the most deaths per capita, 114 per 100,000 residents.
Massachusetts has for weeks been one of the epicenters of COVID-19 in the U.S. It has the fourth-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 -- just over 520,000 tests have been conducted as of Saturday, according to the Department of Public Health.