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Massachusetts reports 4 more COVID-19 deaths, almost 700 more cases

Published: 3/29/2020 6:27:42 PM

Four more Massachusetts residents have died of COVID-19 and almost 700 more have tested positive for the disease, bringing the state’s total death count to 48 and the overall number of cases to 4,955.

The Department of Public Health announced the new data Sunday afternoon, 57 days since the first confirmed case of the coronavirus-caused disease was reported in the Bay State.

In addition to the 698 new confirmed cases and the four new deaths, DPH also reported that an additional 4,017 people have been tested for COVID-19, for a total of 39,066 individuals tested in Massachusetts.

The four people who died of COVID-19 since the state updated its figures Saturday afternoon were: an Essex County man in his 80s who was hospitalized; a Middlesex County woman in her 90s who had pre-existing conditions and was hospitalized; a Norfolk County woman in her 70s who was hospitalized; and a Berkshire County woman in her 80s who had pre-existing conditions, according to DPH.

Gov. Charlie Baker did not hold a press conference Sunday, the first time in weeks that the governor has not spoken directly to residents about the threat of the coronavirus and the state’s efforts to combat it.

Instead, the administration announced a new COVID-19 PPE Procurement and Donation Program that will streamline procurement of personal protective equipment and allow the state to better ensure that the gear in short supply gets into the hands of the people who need it the most.

The state also asked health care professionals to volunteer to assist the state response to the pandemic.

As another work-from-home week dawns, the scant few lawmakers physically on Beacon Hill are likely to continue advancing measures designed to address municipal governance challenges brought on by the pandemic.

On Friday, the House passed a bill (H 4598) that would extended the state income tax filing deadline from April 15 to July 15 – something Baker and legislative leaders said they’ve already agreed to – give restaurants the ability to sell beer and wine via take-out or delivery as they try to remain afloat during the pandemic, and give municipalities more flexibility around property tax deadlines.

The Senate is planning to meet Monday at 11 a.m. and could also continue the work on a handful of other COVID-19 related bills.

The new week is also expected to deliver extensive information about a new tracing and tracking program to help slow the spread of the highly-contagious virus. Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders said Friday that those measures would be announced this coming week.

Meanwhile, the former Food and Drug Administration commissioner now advising Baker and the administration on its COVID-19 response tweeted Sunday morning that “this is now a national epidemic with multiple epicenters.”

“New Orleans, Dallas, Miami, Chicago, Detroit, Boston, Philadelphia, Los Angeles are among cities doubling cases every 3 to 4 days,” Scott Gottlieb, who serves on Baker’s COVID-19 Advisory Board, tweeted. “This reality may severely stretch our ability to federally assist local healthcare systems.”

Gottlieb also released a new report Sunday that outlines a “road map to reopening” the country, including gathering and using better data to identify areas of spread, making improvements to state and local health care system capabilities, ensuring adequate medical supplies, and developing “therapeutic, prophylactic, and preventive treatments and better-informed medical interventions that give us the tools to protect the most vulnerable people and help rescue those who may become very sick.”

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