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Mass. reports 172 new coronavirus cases, 48 new deaths; key metrics remain low relative to springtime surge

A woman received a COVID-19 test on June 18.
A woman received a COVID-19 test on June 18.Erin Clark/Globe Staff

State officials reported Wednesday that the coronavirus death toll in Massachusetts had risen by 48 to 7,938 and that the number of people testing positive for the virus had climbed by 172 to 107,611, as key metrics monitored by the state lingered at low levels relative to the springtime surge.

The numbers reflected both confirmed and probable deaths and cases. When confirmed cases only are included, the tally is 7,752 deaths and 102,762 cases.

The state reported 42 new confirmed-case deaths, and six new probable deaths. It also reported 111 new confirmed cases, plus 61 probable cases.

The state also reported that 7,369 new individuals had been given the molecular coronavirus test, bringing the total of individuals tested to 790,223. The total number of molecular tests that have been administered rose to 995,705.

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The state also reported that new antibody tests had been completed for 532 people, bringing that total to 65,845.

Meanwhile, two of the four key metrics that the state is monitoring to determine the pace of reopening stayed stable. Two ticked up slightly, though they still remained relatively low.

The seven-day weighted average of positive test rates stayed at 1.9 percent for the fourth consecutive day on Tuesday. It has dropped 94 percent since April 15.

The three-day average of the number of patients hospitalized for the coronavirus increased slightly on Tuesday to 937, up from from 933 a day earlier. However, it has dropped 74 percent since April 15.

The number of hospitals using surge capacity ticked up slightly from three on Monday to four on Tuesday — a statistic that is still down from a high of 21 in early May and that has seen an 81 percent decrease since April 15.

Meanwhile, a fourth metric, the three-day average of COVID-19 deaths, stayed stable for the second day at 23 on Sunday. However, that number has dropped 85 percent since April 15.

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The state’s weekly release of town-by-town infection and testing data showed that even in the places hit hardest by COVID-19, new cases are relatively rare. In Chelsea, which has had by far the highest rate of infection in the state since that data was initially released in April, only 22 new cases have been confirmed since June 17.

The new Chelsea cases stem from over 300 tests — a positive rate of less than 7 percent over the course of the week. Public health experts closely watch the rate of tests that come back positive as an indicator of the status of the outbreak, and Chelsea’s positive test rate has declined sharply. Throughout the course of the pandemic, 36 percent of the more than 8,000 tests on Chelsea residents came back positive.

Other cities that have typically shown the highest per capita rates of infection have also seen their new cases slow dramatically. Brockton, where 4,197 cases have been confirmed to date, added only 25 cases since last Wednesday’s data release; Everett added 23. Among cities with the highest rates of infections, Lawrence added the most cases over the most recent week — 72, bringing its total to 3,515. The city’s rate of nearly 4,000 cases per 100,000 residents is the third highest in the state.

Nationwide, other states to the west and south of Massachusetts have seen their COVID-19 numbers rise: After trending downward for six weeks, the US caseload has been growing again for over a week, particularly in states like Florida, Texas, and Arizona.

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Some 34,700 new cases were reported nationwide Tuesday, according to the count kept by Johns Hopkins University. The number was higher than any other day except April 9 and the recordsetting date of April 24, when 36,400 cases were logged.

While new cases have been declining steadily in early US hot spots such as New York and New Jersey, several other states set single-day case records Tuesday, including Texas, Arizona, California, Mississippi, and Nevada. Some of them also broke hospitalization records, as did North Carolina and South Carolina.

Dr. Anthony Fauci told a congressional committee Tuesday that he was concerned about the “disturbing surge” of cases in those states, calling it “a serious situation.”

“The next couple weeks are going to be critical in our ability to address those surges that we’re seeing in Florida, in Texas, and Arizona, and in other states,” he said.

The alarming numbers led New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey on Wednesday to ask travelers from states with high coronavirus infection rates to go into quarantine for 14 days — an effort to preserve hard-fought gains.

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker said Wednesday afternoon that he was aware of the move from the tri-state area. He noted that in Massachusetts, “we currently have a 14-day advisory in place to quarantine, no matter where you come from to Massachusetts,” adding that the advisory has been in place for months.

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Nestor Ramos of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Material from the Associated Press was used in this story.


Jaclyn Reiss can be reached at jaclyn.reiss@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter: @JaclynReiss