BOSTON (AP) — A recent uptick in COVID-19 cases in Massachusetts doesn’t amount to a new surge of the disease caused by the coronavirus, Gov. Charlie Baker said Tuesday.
“This is something we planned for and anticipated,” the Republican said during a Statehouse press conference.
Baker said “there’s no question that there will be more cases this fall” but added that the state has done the needed work to prepare for any increase in the coronavirus.
At the height of virus in the spring, there were up to 4,000 people hospitalized with the disease in Massachusetts. On Monday, the state reported about 500 people hospitalized with COVID-19, “which is way, way, way less,” Baker added.
“I think it’s important to remember that we’re not where we were in March,” he said.
He also said “there is no evidence” that indoor dining and other regulated indoor activities are driving the uptick in cases.
Massachusetts residents have taken important steps to contain the disease, Baker said and he urged them to continue practicing health protocols like wearing masks, practicing social distancing and abandoning risky behavior like shaking hands, hugging and speaking closely with each other.
The state has also built a robust healthcare infrastructure to cope with and respond to any additional upticks in the disease in the fall and winter, according to Baker. He said the state will soon be able to administer up to 100,000 tests a day with a turnaround time of about 2 days.
He said about one in three Massachusetts residents has already been tested at some point since the beginning of the pandemic.
The state has also created a contact tracing program, is continuing to stockpile personal protective equipment like medical gowns and masks and has sufficient hospital capacity if needed.
“This progress puts us in a strong position to be prepared for whatever comes next,” he said.
One concern is that, with the return of colder weather, more people will be spending more time inside in enclosed spaces, increasing the likelihood of transmitting the virus.
Baker also said that last week’s positivity rate for colleges and universities in Massachusetts was just 0.1%. No college in Massachusetts has seen more than 200 cases,
VIRUS BY THE NUMBERS
Massachusetts reported 12 newly confirmed coronavirus deaths and more than 630 newly confirmed cases Tuesday, pushing the state’s confirmed COVID-19 death toll to more than 9,410 and its confirmed caseload to more than 137,500.
The seven-day weighted average of positive tests inched up to 1.2% — up from 0.8% a month ago. The true number of cases is likely higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest some people can be infected and not feel sick.
There were more than 510 people reported hospitalized Tuesday because of COVID-19, and close to 90 in intensive care units.
The three-day average of the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients stood at 509, up from 315 about a month ago.
The number of probable or confirmed COVID-19 deaths reported in long-term care facilities was nearly 6,210.
There was also a single probable COVID-19 death reported Tuesday, bringing the total number of probable deaths since the start of the pandemic to 217.
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