BOSTON (SHNS/WWLP) – In the month since the first COVID-19 death was reported in Massachusetts on March 20, the viral disease has claimed the lives of 1,706 people here, state officials reported Sunday afternoon. The number of total cases now stands at 38,077.
The Department of Public Health reported 146 new COVID-19 deaths and 1,705 new infections Sunday. The number of people who have tested positive for the coronavirus-caused illness, 38,077, is now greater than the entire population of the city of Braintree.
The state also reported Sunday that 5,435 more residents had been tested, bringing the total number of tests conducted to a total of 162,241, which is greater than the entire population of Springfield but barely scratches the surface of the roughly 6.9 million residents of Massachusetts.
On Sunday morning, Governor Charlie Baker appeared on CBS’s Face the Nation and said the Bay State is “right in the middle of the surge now.” Baker was asked about reopening the state. He once again pushed increased testing before decisions were made, and stressed that he believes that federal agencies are the ones who need to be accountable for the increased capacity.
“I certainly believe, the more guidance , especially the ability to put the foot on the accelerator with respect to advancements in testing. Everything associated with testing ultimately has to be approved by the CDC and the FDA, as it should be. The states shouldn’t be making their own decisions on that stuff,” he responded.
White House coronavirus response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx named Boston and Massachusetts when asked on Face the Nation which areas of the country are showing concerning signs.
“We’re still very much focused on Boston and across Massachusetts where the epidemic continues to spread across Massachusetts as well as in Boston, and we’re watching very closely Chicago,” she said.
At 528 cases per 100,000 people, Massachusetts has the third most cases per capita of any state in the country, according to data compiled by the New York Times. Only New York and New Jersey outpace the Bay State. At 23 deaths per 100,000 residents, Massachusetts has the sixth most deaths per capita.
As New York appears to move out of the worst of the crisis, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Sunday that he has spoken with Baker and told him that New York is going to “be there for you” and that the Empire State will deliver 400 ventilators to Massachusetts “on 24 hours notice,” if they are needed. Securing enough critical equipment — from protective gear for health care workers to ventilators and more — has been a primary focus of state officials for weeks. The federal government delivered only a few hundred of the 1,700 ventilators Massachusetts had requested.
On Monday, Baker is scheduled to talk with House Speaker Robert DeLeo and Senate President Karen Spilka via conference call. The House and Senate continue to operate in a diminished capacity, unable to meet as a group due to social distancing and last week encountered some challenges in achieving the unanimous consent required to advance legislation. Legislative leaders on Thursday signaled plans for a bill dealing with crisis care standards and data collection, but no bill is available.
If not for the COVID-19 pandemic, Baker would be expected to be on Boylston Street late Monday morning to crown the winners of the Boston Marathon. Race officials, the governor and Boston Mayor Martin Walsh are instead hoping the marathon can be run in September.
iPads for Holyoke Veterans:
Military Friends Foundation, a nonprofit that supports Massachusetts military families, is partnering with the Massachusetts VFW and Western Massachusetts veterans services officers on Monday morning to deliver 20 iPads to veterans living at the Holyoke Soldiers Home, which has experienced a serious outbreak of COVID-19. “The COVID-19 pandemic has forced veterans at the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home to be physically apart from their loved ones. During these uncertain times, we must to ensure our veterans have every opportunity to stay connected with their families. These iPads will help facilitate video calls to help keep these families connected,” the organizations said in a press release. The Massachusetts National Guard is expected to help the veterans in Holyoke set the iPads up to be able to video call family members as soon as Monday afternoon. — Colin A. Young 3:32 PM
Testing, Cases Increasing in Revere:
Between Friday and Sunday morning, the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Revere grew by 115, the city said, largely a result of increased testing and a rash of cases at a private nursing home. In an update Sunday morning, Revere leaders said the “vast majority” of the 115 new cases came from a private nursing home and that more than half of the residents there who have tested positive were asymptomatic as of Saturday. “As we enter the peak, and as testing becomes more widespread in our city, we anticipate positive cases will rise significantly over the next several days. What the most recent data is showing us is that there are likely many more people in our city who have contracted the virus but who do not exhibit symptoms,” Revere Mayor Brian Arrigo said. “This underscores the importance of continuing to do your part to slow the spread. Even if you are feeling perfectly healthy, you can spread the virus.” Arrigo said he was sending the city’s mobile city hall to Revere Beach on Sunday afternoon “to broadcast a multilingual reminder for beachgoers to stay at home and practice social distancing.”
Santiago Report from Boston Hope:
Beds are beginning to fill up at Boston Hope, the field hospital established inside the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, Rep. Jon Santiago said Saturday night after working a 13-hour shift at the temporary medical site. Santiago, an emergency department doctor at Boston Medical Center, said in a social media update Saturday night that “when you get here, it’s a different vibe” than a traditional hospital because the National Guard is there and the BCEC is so expansive. He said he worked Saturday on the side of Boston Hope that’s run by Health Care for the Homeless and that between 60 and 70 of the 500 beds on that side were full. He said about the same number of beds were full on the Partners HealthCare side. “Everyone is guessing that the next couple of days or weeks we’ll probably get to the 200s per side, so this place is going to fill up quickly,” he said. “But on the whole, it was an honor to work here. The patients were extremely nice.” Santiago said doctors and nurses are becoming more efficient at managing COVID-19 patients in alternative settings. He said a few patients were transferred elsewhere for treatment, but that most patients were able to be treated at the field hospital. “On the whole, I felt pretty good about the care that was given here.” Santiago was set to return for another shift at Boston Hope on Sunday, he said.
NY Ready to Send Ventilators to MA:
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Sunday that his state has already identified 400 ventilators that it could send to Massachusetts. New York and especially New York City had been the primary epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, but the Empire State has seen encouraging numbers in recent days and Cuomo has suggested his state has reached the apex of its curve. Massachusetts is “right in the middle of the surge now,” Gov. Charlie Baker said Sunday and has for weeks been working to secure more ventilators. Cuomo said Sunday that he has spoken to Baker and told him that New York is going to “be there for you” and could deliver 400 ventilators to Massachusetts “on 24 hours notice,” CNN reported.