coronavirus

With 128 More Fatalities, Coronavirus Death Toll Tops 6,000 in Massachusetts

"We believe it's really important that those data elements drive each phase," Gov. Baker said Wednesday when asked about Phase 2 of his reopening plan.

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Another 128 people with the new coronavirus have died in Massachusetts, and 1,045 more cases were confirmed, health officials said Wednesday.

It comes after three-straight days where the death toll rose by fewer than 100 people, most recently 76 on Tuesday. That's down from numbers sometimes above 200 at the height of the coronavirus surge, and the latest sign that social distancing measures are working to contain the virus.

The state's coronavirus death toll now stands at 6,066, while overall, 88,970 people have tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

For the first time in over a week, more people were admitted to Massachusetts hospitals for the virus than left them, according to Wednesday's report. Just over 2,500 people are hospitalized, down from nearly 4,000 in mid-April, with 675 in intensive care units.

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.

None of the six indicators was trending negatively Wednesday and two were trending positively: the positive test rate, though it did rise to 14% from 10%, and the testing capacity. All of the other four metrics were rated "in progress," the intermediate metric.

Gov. Charlie Baker has said his administration will watch the data to determine "when it's safe to move on to concurrent phases after" Phase 1. But negative trends in the data could also prompt more closures and a slide back to a previous phase.

Asked Wednesday when Phase 2 might begin, Baker said he wouldn't get into hypotheticals.

"We believe it's really important that those data elements drive each phase," he said.

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 -- more than 475,000 tests were conducted as of Tuesday, according to the Department of Public Health.

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