146 More Deaths From Coronavirus in Massachusetts, 1,705 New Cases

The death toll from COVID-19 in Massachusetts has reached 1,706

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Massachusetts on Sunday reported 146 more deaths from the new coronavirus, bringing the state's death toll from the outbreak to 1,706.

The total number of positive cases has reached 38,077, with 1,705 new cases announced by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

Massachusetts is in the midst of what officials describe as a surge of coronavirus cases in the state, and every day since Tuesday, health officials have reported new deaths in the triple-digits.

Of the state's deaths connected with the coronavirus, 884 have been reported from long-term care facilities — more than half of all fatalities.

Middlesex County continued to have the most cases at 8,737, followed by Suffolk County at 8,074. In Essex County, 5,153 cases have been reported.

For weeks, public health officials have warned Massachusetts would see a spike in cases this month, with the surge arriving between April 10 and April 20. 

Officials are keeping a keen eye on the number of cases and fatalities reported daily, as a continued surge could threaten to overwhelm the health care system. The data is also seen as a way to gauge when and how to safely reopen the economy.

It was the fourth consecutive day the state has reported a decline in new cases compared to the previous day, though officials have warned against reading into daily numbers.

The "invisible enemy" of the coronavirus makes fighting it very different from war, U.S. Army Chief of Staff James McConville said at Boston's new field hospital. Gov. Charlie Baker said the nature of this fight requires vigilance.

Gov. Charlie Baker said last week he is looking for 14 days of steady declines in positive coronavirus tests before the state can open up again.

He stressed governors throughout the Northeast will need to coordinate on reopening and that the state's ambitious contact-tracing system will need to be working well, so that any flare-ups can be quickly tracked down and contained.

Earlier Sunday, Dr. Peter Slavin, the president of Massachusetts General Hospital, told NBC10 Boston he was cautiously optimistic the state's outbreak was reaching its peak.

NBC 10 Boston speaks with Dr. Peter Slavin, President of Mass General Hospital how the hospital is responding to the pandemic and what healthcare workers are doing to care for patients.

"I think there’s encouraging news at our hospital and around the state that although the numbers are increasing, they’re increasing more slowly and we’re hopeful that the peak is either here or will be here in the next few days," he said in an interview.

Testing has been a bulwark of the state's strategy to contain the virus, and as of Saturday it has conducted more than 162,00 tests.

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