Massachusetts Reports 11 New Coronavirus Deaths, 353 Additional Cases

The percentage of coronavirus tests coming back positive, on average, ticked up to 2.2%, up from 1.7% last week.

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Massachusetts health officials on Sunday announced 11 new deaths from the coronavirus and 353 additional cases as the state continues to see a slight rise in the percentage of people testing positive for COVID-19.

There have now been 8,417 deaths and 110,430 cases, according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

The percentage of coronavirus tests coming back positive, on average, ticked up to 2.2%, up from 1.7% last week.

There are an additional 65 probable cases listed in the department's daily COVID-19 report for Sunday, adding to a total of 8,028 probable cases that have not yet been confirmed. The report listed one new death among the probable cases -- there have been 221 in the state.

The new data comes as officials keep a keen eye on health metrics and warn people to continue practicing social distancing during Phase 3 of the state's reopening.

"It's a slow creep, so what we're saying is we want the slow creep to stop and start trending back down," Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders said at a Friday afternoon press conference where she and Gov. Charlie Baker urged people to continue wearing masks, practicing social distancing and avoiding large gatherings.

Gov. Charlie Baker said Friday that lapses in judgment are contributing to "a slight but important rise" in coronavirus cases in the state.

Officials are investigating at least eight potential COVID-19 clusters in Massachusetts due to people holding gatherings without wearing masks or social distancing, Baker said.

Businesses on Cape Cod could be in further financial trouble if a recent surge of COVID-19 cases continues.

Those clusters include a large lifeguard party in Falmouth, an unauthorized football camp in South Weymouth attended by kids from 17 communities, a Chelmsford graduation party, a 90-person prom party in Cohasset and house parties in Chatham and Wrentham. Baker said the state Department of Public Health is also investigating possible clusters at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield and from a crowded Boston Harbor Cruise held last weekend.

"We should not and cannot let our guard down until there's a treatment or a vaccine. Look no further than other states that have seen dramatic increases in new cases with uncontrolled outbreaks. We do not want to see that happen here," the governor said Friday.

Health officials in Provincetown are asking the state to make it possible to get results for tests for the coronavirus within 48 hours as a way to help contain its spread.

The population of Provincetown has increased in the busy summer tourist season even during the pandemic and because of an increase in owners of second homes working remotely. The Cape Cod Times reports the town and Outer Cape Health Services recently started testing for asymptomatic hospitality and retail workers, but the test result turnaround time is seven days.

"As a rural community that is doing its part, we deserve a shorter turnaround for our proactive testing initiatives,'' the Provincetown Board of Health wrote in a letter sent to Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders on Thursday. "We ask that the Baker Administration develop standards for testing turnaround time of not more than 48 hours. With each positive result comes contact tracing, and delaying contact tracing increases the potential for additional exposures.''

Anyone coming into Massachusetts through Logan Airport or by car, bus and train will now have to prove that they're COVID-19 negative or hunker down.

Om Saturday, the state's mandatory travel order went into effect. All visitors and residents returning to Massachusetts from high-risk areas must either quarantine for 14 days or produce negative COVID-19 test results upon return into the state.

The new travel rules come in the wake of an increase in summer travel. Transportation officials say they're seeing an increase in the volume of travelers from other states and nations, including hot spots like Florida and California.

Gov. Baker says Massachusetts now has a lower average for positive test rates than many other states in the nation, and he wants it to remain that way.

NBC10 Boston, State House News Service and the Associated Press
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