Mass. Coronavirus Deaths Surpass 5,000

Officials reported another 669 cases of COVID-19, marking the fifth consecutive day the number of new cases has decreased

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The number of people who have died of the coronavirus in Massachusetts officially passed 5,000 on Monday.

Another 129 people have died, bringing the total to 5,108. Officials also reported another 669 cases to give the state a total of 78,462.

In a COVID-19 update, Mass. Gov. Charlie Baker announces a 4-phased plan to reopen the economy.

It was the fifth consecutive day the number of new cases reported by the state decreased, though officials have warned against reading too far into daily statistics.

Gov. Charlie Baker has named four key statistics: how many coronavirus tests are coming back positive, what percentage of all infected people are in the hospital, the total number of people hospitalized and the number of people in intensive care units.

On Monday, the percentage of tests that came back positive increased slightly from 9% to 11%.

The percentage of people with coronavirus in the hospital remained at 4%. The number of hospitalizations fell by 26 to 3,102; and the number of patients in intensive care units rose by three to 813.

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Middlesex County remains the Massachusetts county with the most deaths, 1,235, but it doesn't have the highest death rate. That's Hampden County, which has seen 97 deaths per 100,000 residents. That's followed by Norfolk at 93 per 100,000, Suffolk at 90 per 100,000 and Essex at 84 per 100,000.

Middlesex County also has the most coronavirus cases, with 17,774, followed by Suffolk at 15,356, Essex at 11,432 and Worcester at 7,818.

Baker on Monday announced a four-phased plan to reopen the Massachusetts economy. He said he hopes to begin the first phase on May 18 assuming public health data continues to trend in a positive direction.

"The goal is to begin this process around May 18, but it will be gradual and facts on the grounds will determine if we actually hit that goal," he said.

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The governor said the first phase, titled "Start," will have limited industries that are more naturally set up to have little face to face interaction resuming operations with severe restrictions. But before that can happen, he said he wants to see more evidence of declines in coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and other key metrics.

"There isn't going to be a hard and fast on a lot of this," Baker said. "People are going to want to see what happens."

Baker said the second phase, dubbed "Cautious," will include more industries with more face to face interactions resuming operations with restrictions and capacity limits.

Phase three, "Vigilant," will involve additional industries resuming operations with guidance and the final phase is what Baker calls the "New Normal," which won't happen until a vaccine or therapy has been developed to effectively treat COVID-19.

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The governor said the state will be releasing industry-specific guidance on these different phases in the coming days.

Baker's administration also announced the development of Mandatory Workplace Safety Standards to reduce the risk of transmission as employees and customers begin to return to workplaces during the first phase. These include social distancing, hand washing and keeping people who are displaying COVID-19 symptoms from reporting to work.

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