coronavirus

COVID Spiking Ahead of Flu Season in Mass.; 1,100 New Cases Over the Weekend

More than 1,100 cases were reported over the weekend

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As the flu season approaches, coronavirus cases are once again on the rise in Massachusetts.

In recent days, there has been an uptick in the daily reported cases. Over the weekend alone, more than 1,100 COVID-19 cases were reported, including 515 on Saturday and another 594 on Sunday. That brings the state's cumulative caseload to 128,426.

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The state Department of Public Health also announced the recent deaths of 18 people Saturday and 13 people Sunday, increasing the confirmed death toll to 9,191, or 9,404 when counting people who died with probable cases.

Saturday's 515 new cases came from testing 14,310 new people, which works out to a positivity rate of 3.6%. Sunday's 594 cases came from tests of 18,065 new people, or 3.29% positive. The state's seven-day average positive test rate -- which represents the share of all tests that come back positive, not people who test positive -- remained at 0.8% as of Sunday.

At the same time that the number of daily new cases inches upward and the number of active cases of the highly-contagious virus continues a climb it started in July, Massachusetts hospitals on Sunday saw a spike in COVID-19 patients needing to be hospitalized. There were 408 being treated for COVID-19 in a hospital as of midday Sunday, an increase of 54 from Saturday, health officials said. Sunday's spike more than erased the decrease of 35 patients between Friday and Saturday. In the last month, the three-day average number of COVID-19 patients hospitalized is up more than 27%.

The rise in cases comes as students have returned to college campuses, elementary, middle and high schools across the state have opened their doors and the economy has continued to slowly return to some semblance of normalcy.

Gov. Charlie Baker announced last week that he was relaxing restaurant guidelines, increasing seating from 6 to 10 people per table and allowing for bar seating.

Merrimack College is shifting to online classes for the week after learning of a dozen more coronavirus cases believed to be unrelated to a cluster confined to one residence hall.

The increase in cases has some health experts concerned that the state might soon need to roll back some of the state's reopening efforts.

A spokesperson for the state told the Boston Globe that they attribute the recent rise in cases to the increased testing taking place at colleges across Massachusetts.

“We are monitoring this recent trend, which includes the impact of significant testing by colleges and universities across the Commonwealth,” Tory Mazzola, a spokesman for the COVID-19 Command Center, told the newspaper. “The significant increase in testing across the Commonwealth has contributed to an increase in positive cases.”

State House News Service contributed to this report.

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