The Department of Public Health's projection of active COVID-19 cases crept above 30,000 on Sunday, reflecting the increase in new cases in Massachusetts that has drawn attention from health experts.
Sunday's estimate of 30,772 active cases, roughly equivalent to the population of Needham, is the highest since Feb. 26 and an increase of more than 20% from the low point of 25,397 reported on March 17.
The Department of Public Health recorded 2,362 new confirmed cases from 108,411 tests in Saturday's report and 1,817 new cases from 75,179 new tests in Sunday's report. With another 64 confirmed deaths reported across Saturday and Sunday, the cumulative toll counting both those with confirmed and probable COVID-19 infections now stands at 17,115.
The seven-day average positive test rate fell slightly over the weekend from 2.41% in Friday's report to 2.28% in Sunday's, while the number of patients in Massachusetts hospitals with confirmed COVID-19 cases climbed by 35 over the weekend to 657.
Former U.S. Food and Drug Administrator Scott Gottlieb, a member of Gov. Charlie Baker's COVID-19 Advisory Board, took notice of the Bay State's growth in cases.
"Michigan, Massachusetts, and the New York tri-state region remain some of the areas of greatest concern, where Covid cases are beginning to surge again," Gottlieb tweeted Sunday.
Massachusetts entered the fourth phase of the Baker administration's reopening plan one week ago, increasing gathering limits for event venues and public settings as well as allowing ballparks, arenas and stadiums to host some fans for games.
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky warned states on March 1 against "rolling back" public health precautions too quickly, and since then she has noted that infection numbers nationally are again on the rise.
On Monday, she made an impassioned plea to Americans not to let their guard down in the fight against COVID-19, warning of a potential “fourth wave” of the virus as cases in the U.S. rose 10% over the last week.
Speaking during a White House briefing, Walensky grew emotional as she reflected “on the recurring feeling I have of impending doom.”
“We have so much to look forward to, so much promise and potential of where we are and so much reason for hope. But right now, I’m scared,” she said.