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Bed Availability Metric More Precise As New Virus Cases Remain High

State public health officials have begun providing the public with more detailed information on hospital bed availability as the health care system deals with a growing number of COVID-19 patients and shortages of people to care for them.

The Department of Public Health this weekend began using hospital bed counts as reported by the hospitals rather than rounded figures when reporting hospital capacity data in its daily reports. For instance, Friday's report said there were 9,400 total non-intensive care unit beds in Massachusetts and Saturday's new, more detailed report put the number at 9,365 total beds.

The switch happened on a weekend that saw DPH confirm 9,645 new cases of the coronavirus, 4,968 on Saturday and another 4,677 cases Sunday. The agency also announced a total of 88 recent COVID-19 deaths this weekend. Over the last week, Massachusetts has confirmed 29,552 new cases of the coronavirus. In all, 279,574 people here have been infected with the virus and 11,349 people have died with confirmed or likely cases of COVID-19.

As of 3 p.m. Saturday, there were 1,707 people with COVID-19 hospitalized in Massachusetts, an increase of 102 patients over the previous 48 hours. There were about 1,490 non-ICU beds open and able to be staffed within 24 hours, representing roughly 16% capacity, DPH said. There were also about 395 ICU beds that could accept patients within 24 hours, about 27% of available capacity.

DPH said Sunday that the state's seven-day average positive test rate fell to 5.61% from 5.72% Friday, though it remains far higher than the 0.8% positive test rate the state averaged as recently as late September.

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