The death toll from confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Massachusetts rose by two to 8,438, state officials reported Wednesday, and the number of confirmed cases climbed by 338, bringing the total to 111,371.
The state Department of Public Health also reported 102 new probable cases, bringing that total to 8,272. There were no new probable deaths reported, keeping that total at 221.
State officials said 17,216 more people had been tested for the coronavirus, bringing the total number of individuals tested to 1,251,322. The total number of tests administered climbed to 1,636,875.
The state reported that new antibody tests had been completed for 872 people, bringing that total to 99,170.
The three-day average of hospitalized coronavirus patients dropped slightly from 378 on Monday to 375 as of Tuesday. It was down 90 percent since mid-April.
The number of hospitals using surge capacity was four, representing an 81 percent drop since mid-April. And the three-day average of deaths from confirmed coronavirus cases dropped from 10 on Saturday to 9 on Sunday — a 94 percent decrease from mid-April.
The seven-day weighted average of positive tests, which is being watched closely by state officials, was at 2.2 percent, where it has been for four of the past five days. The current number still represents a 93 percent drop from mid-April highs, and other key metrics monitored for the state’s pace of reopening are still low relative to the springtime surge.
Still, some experts have urged the state recently to tighten restrictions to help stem the spread of COVID-19, and Governor Charlie Baker on Tuesday hinted that he could walk back the reopening and further limit gatherings if numbers continue to climb.
“We hope we will be able to continue to move forward. But if the data doesn’t support moving forward, as we have said many times, we won’t,” Baker said Tuesday.
However, Baker also noted Tuesday that there has been an increase in testing due to free sites the state has set up in several communities, and pointed to clusters where there has been “slippage” among residents in adhering to public health guidelines, such as wearing a mask and social distancing.
“This stuff is like the gold standard. But you have to be vigilant and you have to be disciplined and you have to do it over and over again,” Baker said Tuesday.
The state on Wednesday also released new town-by-town numbers for coronavirus cases, the latest set of such data showing how the virus has impacted individual communities throughout Massachusetts.
Meanwhile, a University of Massachusetts model estimates that the state coronavirus death toll will rise over 9,000 by Aug. 29.
The model estimates that by that day, as summer winds to an end, the heartbreaking tally will reach around 9,087 deaths, though researchers noted the numbers could range higher or lower, from 8,911 to 9,436.
The estimate comes from a lab headed by UMass Amherst associate professor Nicholas Reich that collects various coronavirus pandemic models and develops a combined — or ensemble — forecast that is intended to reflect their collective wisdom.
Reich’s lab releases the ensemble forecast weekly. It only creates the forecast for a four-week window ahead because it believes forecasts aren’t reliable enough after that.
The forecast released this week for Aug. 29 was up from last week’s forecast for Aug. 22, which was around 8,960 deaths.
Reich’s lab posts its national- and state-level data at the Reich Lab COVID-19 Forecast Hub. The lab, already an Influenza Forecasting Center of Excellence, collaborates with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on coronavirus predictions. The lab feeds the data it’s collected and its ensemble forecast to the agency, which posts the data on its own website.
The closely watched University of Washington Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation model, looking further into the future, predicts that Massachusetts will see 9,647 coronavirus deaths by Nov. 1.
At the national level, the UMass model predicts the death tally will reach over 181,000 by Aug. 29.
“Our latest ensemble forecast of #COVID19 is out. Topline results: the model expects to see over 180K #COVID19 deaths in the US by the end of August, with 6,500-7,500 new deaths for each of the next 4 weeks,” Reich wrote in a tweet.
The current US death toll was more than 157,000 as of Wednesday afternoon, according to Johns Hopkins University.
The University of Washington IHME model is now predicting more than 230,000 deaths nationwide by Nov. 1.
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