For the first time in more than three months, Massachusetts health officials reported no new deaths related to COVID-19.
On Tuesday, there were no new confirmed or probable coronavirus-related deaths tallied in the Department of Public Health's daily release of pandemic figures.
The state reported its first death on March 20. Since then, Massachusetts has changed how it reports deaths, opting instead to list the date of death rather than the date it was reported to state officials. Under the updated reporting, the first death occurred 10 days earlier, on March 10.
Roughly 8,000 Massachusetts residents have died of COVID-19 since the crisis started. What started as isolated reports of ill travelers and infected conferees soon became a tidal wave of reported deaths and positive cases. That wave seems to have peaked in late April, plateaued and then slowly decreased.
People were told to keep six feet away from anyone who was ill, then to just stay away from others in general, lest they spread or catch the illness trough droplets released by a sneeze, or a cough, or just breathing.
State leaders soon shut down non-essential businesses and urged — but did not order — people to remain home. Streets in Boston seemed abandoned in the middle of the day, an image last seen during the manhunt for the Boston Marathon bombers and one people thought they’d never see again.
New guidance about wearing masks when around others eventually became mandates. Fears about contamination through contact led to glove-wearing. Through it all, a near-constant washing of hands.
While younger and healthier people had an easier time dealing with the virus, those with underlying health issues, especially older residents, bore a terrible share of the burden. The virus ripped through nursing homes and senior care facilities. The Holyoke Soldiers' Home lost more than 70 residents and the mismanagement there has become a national scandal.
Though the new report has generated relief in many corners, it's been tempered by national news. While Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut and New Jersey have seen promising trends after a spring season filled with death, cases of coronavirus infections are now spiking in the U.S. South and West.
On the same day Massachusetts reported zero deaths, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's foremost expert on infectious disease, told Congress that the first wave of illness isn't over, and that the nation may soon record 100,000 new infections per day.