The number of confirmed COVID-19 deaths in Massachusetts surpassed 8,600 over the weekend as public health officials reported a cumulative 669 new coronavirus infections and announced 25 recent deaths.
Since the state's first COVID-19 death was reported March 20, at least 8,607 people have died with the virus. Accounting for people who have died with probable cases of the respiratory disease, Massachusetts has seen the virus take 8,838 lives in five months.
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The announcements from the Department of Public Health of 14 recent deaths Saturday and 11 recent deaths Sunday pushed the state's death toll over the 8,600 mark. The state also confirmed 366 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday and another 303 new cases on Sunday, raising the state's total caseload to 114,398.
In both weekend reports, the seven-day average of the positive test rate held steady at 1.4%, the lowest value yet recorded. COVID-19 hospitalizations declined both days, from 398 as of Friday to 375 by midday Saturday and eventually to 372 as of midday Sunday.
Concerned by the persistent spread of the coronavirus and a lax attitude among some people towards social distancing, Gov. Charlie Baker in recent weeks tightened restrictions on gatherings and the state has stepped up its enforcement of mitigation policies. Meanwhile, the COVID-19 transmission rate in Massachusetts has declined to be the second-lowest in the country, according to a website that has been compiling state data and tracking transmission trends.
The current Rt for the coronavirus in Massachusetts -- a measure of a virus's average transmission rate at a given point in time -- was estimated at 0.83 as of Sunday, according to the website Rt.live. The Rt value is essentially the number of people that one infected person transmits the virus to and any value greater than 1.0 indicates rapid spread of the virus.