Massachusetts has now confirmed more than 550,000 coronavirus cases after reporting 1,428 new cases of the virus on Sunday, along with 52 more deaths. The grim milestone comes a little over a year after the first coronavirus case was reported in the Bay State.
There have now been totals of 550,302 confirmed cases and 15,796 deaths in the state, according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. Another 322 deaths are considered probably linked to COVID-19.
Generally, Massachusetts' coronavirus metrics have been trending down in the past several weeks, according to the Department of Public Health's interactive coronavirus dashboard, with the average number of cases, hospitalizations and deaths peaking in the second week of January. The testing rate peaked Jan. 1. The figures reported daily are important for tracking trends with the virus' spread, though a single-day change may not reflect a larger trend, and may reflect incomplete data.
The percentage of coronavirus tests coming back positive, on average, fell slightly to 1.73% from 1.85%.
The number of patients hospitalized for COVID-19 dropped again, dipping from 785 to 760. Of that number, 183 were listed as being in intensive care units and 124 were intubated, according to health officials.
The number of estimated active cases also declined to 30,062 from 30,111 on Saturday.
The latest report from health officials comes as Massachusetts prepares to move forward in its economic reopening plan Monday.
On Monday, the state will move to Phase 3, Step 2, as new daily cases of COVID-19 have dipped to their lowest levels since October and Massachusetts confirmed it has fully vaccinated more than half a million residents. Another 600,000 have received an initial dose of the vaccine.
The state had shifted to Phase 3, Step 2 in October, but returned to the first step of Phase 3 on Dec. 13, after a post-Thanksgiving spike in cases. Returning to Step 2 will ease some restrictions placed on businesses.
All capacity limits will be removed for restaurants, under Massachusetts' statewide guidelines, and live musical performances may resume. Other rules for restaurants, such as social distancing six feet apart, a maximum of six people at each table and 90-minute limits on eating times will remain in place.
More on COVID in Mass.
Capacity limits across all sectors with limits will also be raised to 50% and exclude employees, according to the announcement from the state.
Gov. Charlie Baker's office emphasized that residents should continue to wear masks and avoid contact outside their household. Travel advisories are also still in effect -- only Hawaii and Puerto Rico are currently considered low-risk.
Boston is mostly following the governor's lead in reopening Monday, but will keep a few restrictions in place.