As pandemic rages, some signs of improvement

  • Kyle Mastalerz, directs the public for getting tested on the first day for testing of Hampshire County residents at the UMass testing site, Dec. 14, 2020. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

State House News Service
Published: 1/19/2021 11:49:32 AM

Although public health officials confirmed the first case of the new COVID-19 variant on Sunday, Massachusetts notched some improvement in its overall pandemic outlook over the long weekend.

The Department of Public Health reported a total of 8,172 new coronavirus cases over the three-day weekend alongside 251,214 new tests, pushing the average positive test rate down from 6.45% on Friday to 5.91% on Monday.

Since peaking at 8.7% on New Year’s Day, the rolling average positivity rate in Massachusetts has dropped more than 2.5 percentage points, which could be a sign that spread is gradually slowing in parallel with the first phase of vaccine rollout.

However, the number of COVID cases deemed active continued to climb over the weekend to 98,750 on Monday, more than the population of Brockton, the state’s sixth-largest city. Hospitalizations fluctuated slightly day-to-day, and five more patients in hospitals had COVID on Monday than did on Friday.

DPH reported 193 new confirmed deaths and another three probable deaths across Saturday, Sunday and Monday, pushing the cumulative death toll counting both confirmed and probable cases to 13,705.

The impact of the new COVID-19 variant, first detected in the United Kingdom, is not yet clear. The U.S. Centers for Disease Controls warns that the new strand, B.1.1.7, “spreads more easily and quickly than other variants,” and state health officials had said it might have been present in Massachusetts before the first confirmed case on Sunday.




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