FALL RIVER, MASS. (WHDH) - Gov. Charlie Baker on Tuesday announced a steady decline in coronavirus hospitalizations and a drop in new positive COVID-19 cases — two key statistical areas that health officials are monitoring closely as Massachusetts continues to develop a phased plan to reopen the economy.

Only 10 percent of about 10,000 COVID-19 tests administered Monday came back positive, which is the lowest percentage the Bay State has seen since early March when about 5,000 tests were being conducted each day, Baker said during a news conference at Merrow Manufacturing in Fall River.

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“We remain focused on continuing to expand our testing capacity and believe it’s a good sign that as the testing numbers are getting bigger, the percent of positive cases is getting smaller,” Baker said.

Baker noted that the state has been targeting its testing at longterm care facilities, and in hot spots and high-risk parts of the population.

Baker added that the state continues to communicate daily with the healthcare community to monitor hospitalization rates. As of Monday, there were 3,539 people hospitalized in the state, a 78-patient drop from the day before.

“We’ve seen a pretty downward trend on the number of people hospitalized for COVID-19 for just about a week,” Baker said. “That’s a really encouraging sign and a key piece of data that we watch closely with respect to almost all issues associated with how we’re doing. We’re still very much in the fight against the virus but it’s encouraging, I think for everybody, to see progress.”

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In order for Massachusetts to lift its non-essential business closure order and stay-home advisory in favor of a phased reopening on May 18, Baker said there needs to be a steady trend of dropping hospitalizations.

“As we get through the other side of this and start to determine the next steps for going forward, we need to see these numbers continue to fall,” Baker explained.

Prior to announcing the updates on testing and hospitalizations, Baker toured Merrow Manufacturing, which has converted its facility to produce personal protective equipment to help healthcare workers in their fight against the pandemic.

In partnership with the Baker Administration’s Manufacturing Emergency Response Team, the family-owned and -operated company has scaled up its diverse manufacturing operations to become the largest manufacturer of American-sourced reusable and disposable medical isolation gowns.

Starting Wednesday, all Massachusetts residents will be required to wear a mask or face-covering in public places where social distancing can not be safely practiced.

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