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Mass. COVID-19 Case Counts On The Rise Again

A woman receives a COVID-19 test at the Whittier Street Health Center's mobile test site, July 15, 2020, in Dorchester. (Elise Amendola/AP)
A woman receives a COVID-19 test at the Whittier Street Health Center's mobile test site, July 15, 2020, in Dorchester. (Elise Amendola/AP)

There were nearly 500 new cases of COVID-19 confirmed in Massachusetts over the weekend and the percentage of tests that come back positive for the coronavirus is rising.

The Department of Public Health confirmed 210 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday and 273 more cases on Sunday, along with the announcement of 31 recent COVID-19 deaths between the two days. The number of daily new cases, which had generally settled at fewer than 200 a day earlier in the month, has been above 200 each of the last four days.

"Last four days in #Massachusetts had #COVID19 new positive tests over 200. Last time that happened? Mid-June - on the way down," Dr. David Rosman, president of the Massachusetts Medical Society, tweeted Sunday night.

Sunday's report from DPH also showed that the seven-day average of the positive test rate as of July 25 had climbed to 1.9% from 1.8% after holding steady at 1.7% for more than a week. One month ago, the positive test rate was 2%.

Data reported Sunday would suggest the average will continue to climb — the 273 new cases reported Sunday were the results of 9,780 tests, meaning that 2.79% of all tests came back positive for the virus.

Last week, the governor pointed out that the state's average positive test rate has dropped in the months since many aspects of the state's economy began to reopen. When the earliest steps of the administration's reopening plan began May 18, the seven-day average positive test rate was 9.6%.

"We actually had a higher positive test rate two and a half months ago than we have today, which speaks not only to the strategic decision-making that went into developing and implementing that plan, but it also speaks in a very big way to the work that's continued to be done by the people in Massachusetts to do the things that we know are most successful in containing the virus and reducing the spread," Gov. Charlie Baker said last week.

In Somerville, Mayor Joe Curtatone has taken a slower approach to allow business and social activity to resume. While most of the rest of the state has advanced to phase three of the administration's plan to open movie theater, gyms and more, Somerville is waiting until at least early August to permit most of those phase three businesses.

In an interview Sunday with WBZ-TV's Jon Keller, Curtatone defended his approach and said he has two goals: "to ensure the public health, safety and wellbeing of everyone in our community and also to make sure that in any reopening, that it sustainable."

"As we move forward and as we have been moving forward, we have to commend the governor, his administration, the commonwealth and everyone out there who has done their part to flatten the curve," he said. "But there are lessons to be learned and there's data that we should be fully looking at."

At the end of a press conference Friday at which he announced new mandatory quarantine or testing requirements, Gov. Charlie Baker said the data he's seen do not suggest that young people are driving coronavirus activity in Massachusetts.

"We do not have that," Baker said. "Our under-30 crowd is a higher percentage than it was two months ago, but that's not because their positive test rate overall has gone up. It hasn't, it's collapsed the same way the 30 to 60 crowd did and the over-60 crowd did."

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