With daily case COVID-19 counts, average positivity rates and hospitalizations higher than they were during a summer lull, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker on Tuesday outlined progress the state has made over the past several months "to prevent the silent spread" of the highly contagious coronavirus and prepare for a fall uptick in virus activity.
"Over the past few weeks we started to see an increase in the number of COVID cases here and across the country and in many other countries," Baker said at a State House press conference. "For months, public health experts have forecasted this increase."
Massachusetts has built a "massive infrastructure to respond to this pandemic," he said, leaving the state "in a strong position to be prepared for what comes next."
Baker said the state will be able to rapidly expand hospital capacity if necessary, and that there are sufficient personal protective equipment supplies to meet the needs of health care and human service providers.
But the preparations, he cautioned, "are of little use without the people of Massachusetts continuing to do their part." He urged continued vigilance against the virus, "especially as we all move from our backyards to our living rooms and our family rooms" as the weather gets colder.
"Household spread. Intergenerational spread. Expect to hear these terms a lot this fall," Baker said. "We all have a role to play here, and it doesn't end when we come home from work or the supermarket."
Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders also announced that the state's Stop the Spread initiative, which provides free testing at sites in 18 communities with higher COVID-19 case counts, will be extended through December. The program's previous end date had been Oct. 31.
Baker's remarks came after state health officials reported 765 new confirmed coronavirus cases and an additional 13 deaths on Monday.
There have now been 9,401 confirmed deaths and 136,933 cases, according to the state Department of Public Health. The percentage of coronavirus tests coming back positive, on average, is hovering right around 1%, according to the report.
The number of patients hospitalized for COVID-19 increased to 511 on Monday. Of that number, 82 were listed as being in intensive care units and 32 are intubated, according to the state.
State House News Service contributed to this report.