Mass. Confirms 1,281 New COVID Cases, 41 More Deaths

There have now been 559,083 confirmed cases and 16,085 deaths in the state since the start of the pandemic, according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health

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Massachusetts health officials reported 1,281 new confirmed coronavirus cases and 41 more deaths on Sunday.

There have now been 559,083 confirmed cases and 16,085 deaths in the state, according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. Another 332 deaths are considered probably linked to COVID-19.



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Generally, Massachusetts' coronavirus metrics have been trending down in the past several weeks, according to the Department of Public Health's interactive coronavirus dashboard, with the average number of cases, hospitalizations and deaths peaking in the second week of January.

The testing rate peaked Jan. 1. The figures reported daily are important for tracking trends with the virus' spread, though a single-day change may not reflect a larger trend, and may reflect incomplete data.

Sunday's report showed the percentage of coronavirus tests coming back positive, on average, ticked down to 1.66% from 1.79% on Saturday.

The number of patients hospitalized for COVID-19 dipped again, with 665 people listed as in the hospital on Sunday. Of that number, 174 were listed as being in intensive care units and 116 were intubated, according to health officials.

The number of estimated active cases increased to 27,320 from 27,190 on Saturday.

Around 120 nursing students from UMass Lowell are assisting Lowell General Hospital with their mass vaccination clinic.

The latest DPH reports comes a day before nurses at St. Vincent Hospital in Worcester are planning to strike following what they described as failed negotiations with Dallas-based Tenet Healthcare, which owns the hospital.

The nurses said in a press release that Tenet has refused to address their call for needed staffing improvements to ensure safer patient care. They scheduled a rally in Worcester on Sunday night ahead of the planned strike on Monday.

"It is clear from Tenet's hardline stance on staffing that they are intent on forcing nurses to strike,'' Marlena Pellegrino, a registered nurse and co-chair of the bargaining unit, said in a press release.

"We are resolved to do whatever it takes for as long as it takes to protect our patients, as it is safer to strike now than allow Tenet to continue endangering our patients,'' she said. "We are always ready to get back to the table to negotiate whenever Tenet is ready do the same.''

The hospital issued a statement Sunday saying they are disappointed in what they called an irresponsible decision to call a strike in the middle of an ongoing pandemic, but said they are "fully prepared and appropriately staffed to continue to provide safe, high-quality care to our patients.''

Hospital management also said that over "18 months of negotiations, we listened attentively to our nurses and made multiple increasing offers to the MNA'' -- the Massachusetts Nurses Association, which is representing the striking nurses.

They said that "because of the costs associated with the strike, the hospital may revise its offer to account for the economic impact of the MNA's action.''

The MNA said the decision to strike followed what they described as a concerted effort over the last two years by the nurses to convince Tenet to improve the patient care conditions at the facility -- poor conditions they say that have only been exacerbated by the pandemic. Adding insult to injury, the union said, the same day nurses voted to authorize the strike, Tenet announced annual profits of more than $400 million.

The last time St. Vincent nurses went on strike was in 2000, when a 49-day work stoppage helped them get their first union contract.

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