Mass. Hospitals Preparing for Long Winter Amid Spike in COVID Cases

Over the past week alone, more than 4,000 new coronavirus cases have been reported in the state

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Boston area hospitals say they are preparing for a long winter as COVID-19 cases continue to spike in Massachusetts and across the globe.

Over the past week alone, more than 4,000 new coronavirus cases have been reported in the state, including 1,226 over the weekend. The percentage of coronavirus tests coming back positive, on average, is at 1.1%, compared to the 0.8% it had been at in previous weeks.

Boston entered the highest-risk, category on the state's COVID map last week, even as Gov. Charlie Baker is allowing Massachusetts to move ahead with the latest step in the reopening of its economy.

Those numbers are still not as high as what the state experienced in the spring, but health officials say they are concerned.

Lowell General Hospital told The Boston Globe they are seeing three times the number of coronavirus patients as they were as recently as a month ago. Lowell is one of the 23 communities currently included in the red, or highest-risk, categories on the state's COVID map.

Southcoast Health said its hospitals have seen COVID-19 cases double in the last two weeks. And UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester has also seen a steady increase.

The number of patients hospitalized for COVID-19 in the state is now up to 438. Of that number, 83 were listed as being in intensive care units and 27 are intubated, according to the Department of Public Health.

The three-day average number of coronavirus patients in the hospital is up 41% from the lowest observed value.

This all comes as a virus cluster is growing at a jail in Middleton, according to the Essex County Sheriff's Department. Twenty-five inmates, 21 employees and two contractors have tested positive. Additionally, 28 male patients at the Massachusetts Alcohol and Substance Abuse Center in Plymouth tested positive for the virus, the state correction department said Saturday. Eleven employees with Wellpath, which handles inmate health care for the department, also tested positive. 

It was also announced Saturday that a tenth firefighter in Attleboro has tested positive for the virus, bringing the department's total to 12, which includes two dispatchers.

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