More than 200 people have died from the coronavirus in Massachusetts, according to the latest figures released Saturday by the state's Department of Public Health.
The state reported 24 new deaths on Saturday, bringing the statewide total to 216.
Health officials also announced 1,334 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, meaning the number of Bay State residents who have tested positive for the virus so far is 11,736.
The majority of those infected are in Middlesex, Suffolk, Essex, Norfolk, Worcester and Plymouth counties.
To date, there are 480 confirmed cases of COVID-19 at long-term care facilities across the state, according to the DPH. Health officials say 94 long-term care facilities have reported at least one case of the virus.
State Heath and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders said Friday that 21 veterans have recently died at the Holyoke Soldiers' Home, 15 of whom tested positive for COVID-19. Tests for three other veterans who have recently died are pending, two tests were negative and the cause of one death is unknown. Fifty-nine other residents and 18 staffers have tested positive.
The number of coronavrius-related deaths at the Chelsea Soldiers' Home remains at two, Sudders said. Eleven other residents and five staff members have also tested positive.
Seven residents at a Norwood nursing home who tested positive for the coronavirus have died, and at least three of those are attributed to complications from COVID-19, a facility official said Friday. Twelve residents have tested positive for the virus at the Charlwell House Health & Rehabilitation Center, said Vice President of Operations Chris Roberts. Some of the seven deaths were blamed on other health problems, he said.
The National Guard responded Friday to the Life Care Center of Nashoba Valley in Littleton to test residents for the virus, town officials said in a statement. Nine residents and eight workers have tested positive at the center, and one resident has died, Life Care Centers of America wrote in a press release.
More than 1,000 Massachusetts residents have been hospitalized since the outbreak's start. For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, pneumonia, or death.
As of Saturday, nearly 69,000 people have been tested for the virus, with 5,838 new tests conducted since yesterday.
Experts warn the worst is still to come, however. The latest models show the state could see up to 172,000 coronavirus cases when the surge hits sometime between April 10 and April 20.
A Boston nurse. who worked 20 days straight, opened up to NBC10 Boston about how it's been treating those with COVID-19 so far and how she is bracing for the expected surge in cases later this month.
Jennifer Rezendes, an IV nurse at Brigham and Women's Hospital, is one of many taking every precaution she can to stay safe but she worries though there may not be enough.
"We just know it's coming because we have seen the footage in Italy, we are seeing what's happening in New York, and its unnerving, I'm not going to lie there," she said. "We need PPE, we need N95s, I have to tell you I was choking back tears when I was in the break room watching that Patriots plane coming in."
Rezendes was talking about Thursday when Patriots owner Robert Kraft helped bring more than a million N95 masks to the commonwealth, giving a morale boost to hospitals across Boston.
"It is like we are going to war with broken shields and Robert Kraft threw the Hail Mary," she said laughing.
As doctors and nurses on the front lines of the coronavirus crisis wait for the expected surge, they worry not so much about catching the virus themselves, but what if they have it and don't even know it.
"Boy, it does scare the pants off of me that I could be placing an IV in someone, and you know, I am passing on to them, I don't know," Rezendes said. "That's heavy, that's heavy, knowing that. That's what I'm scared about."
On Friday, Gov. Charlie Baker announced a new contact tracing program that he said will help limit the further spread of the coronavirus across the commonwealth. The program will focus on alerting individuals who may have come in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19 so they can self-quarantine or be tested themselves.
Baker said Massachusetts will be the first state to launch this type of initiative. Nearly 1,000 workers will be deployed to connect with COVID-19 patients and their contacts. Announcing the new initiative, Baker said it was time to start going on offense against the disease.
The chief medical officer of Partners In Health acknowledged this will be a difficult task.
"We are daunted by the challenge, but we are undaunted by the moral need to stop the epidemic," Dr. Joia Mukherjee said. "Is it too late? It cannot be too late. We need to mitigate the suffering now."
The number of people infected in the U.S. exceeded 300,092 and the death toll climbed past 8,078 on Saturday.