Massachusetts Sees 87 New Coronavirus Deaths, 1,886 New Cases

Also Saturday, the total number of U.S. coronavirus cases topped 500,000 -- Massachusetts remains among the states with the most cases

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Another 87 people have died with the new coronavirus in Massachusetts and 1,886 more people have been diagnosed with COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, health officials said Saturday.

It brings the state's death toll to 686 and the total number of cases to 22,860, a day after that figure topped 20,000 on what was expected to be the first day of the coronavirus surge in Massachusetts.

Nearly half of all deaths in the state -- 306, or 45% of the total -- came at long-term care facilities, according to the Department of Public Health's figures. The elderly are among the most vulnerable to COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.

Nearly 200 long-term care facilities statewide have now reported at least one coronavirus case.

The Massachusetts Attorney General's Office is launching an investigation into a nursing facility in Holyoke where more than a dozen veterans have died amid an outbreak of the new coronavirus.

On Saturday, the U.S. took the worldwide lead in reported coronavirus deaths while its case count topped 500,000. Just under half of those cases are in New York and New Jersey, but Massachusetts remains among the states with the next-most people testing positive.

Friday was projected to be the first day of Massachusetts' peak in coronavirus hospitalizations, Gov. Charlie Baker said last week. But he said at a news conference Friday that the peak is now likelier toward April 20.

Thursday marked Massachusetts' first daily increase in coronavirus cases of more than 2,000, and Baker said a day later that the state is projecting about 2,500 new coronavirus cases a day at the peak.

"We are about to have a very difficult couple of weeks here," Baker said. "And it could be three weeks and it could be four."

Another factor in the increased number of people testing positive may be that testing has increased as well -- a crucial component to understanding how far the virus has spread.

On Saturday, Baker toured a new facility in Somerville that will allow tens of thousands of medical-grade N95 masks to be sterilized each day, dramatically expanding the supply for the medical professionals and first responders who use them each day.

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