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Mass. reports 229 new confirmed coronavirus cases, 18 new deaths

Registered nurses from the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center worked in a pop-up COVID-19 testing site in Joe Moakley Park on Aug. 11.
Registered nurses from the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center worked in a pop-up COVID-19 testing site in Joe Moakley Park on Aug. 11.Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff

The death toll from confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Massachusetts rose by 18 to 8,547, state officials reported Wednesday, and the number of confirmed cases climbed by 229, bringing the total to 113,198.

The state Department of Public Health said 15,693 more people had been tested for the coronavirus, bringing the total number of individuals tested to 1,353,299. The total number of tests administered climbed to 1,781,548.

Wednesday’s report for the first time did not contain a separate count of probable cases and probable deaths from the virus.

DPH officials said the daily report had been “streamlined to highlight the particular data points most useful to track the daily impact of the virus.” Other figures that were helpful earlier in the pandemic but now are less meaningful in assessing the pandemic in Massachusetts have been consolidated, the department said.

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The new data includes a daily count of antigen testing, which looks for protein fragments linked to COVID-19. There were 2,518 antigen tests reported Wednesday, for a total of 62,483 people tested.

The state reported that new antibody tests had been completed for 574 people, bringing that total to 102,208.

Wednesday’s report also showed the state’s contact tracing capability moving from a status of “in process” to “positive trend.”

The seven-day weighted average of positive tests dipped from 1.6 percent on Monday to 1.5 percent on Tuesday.

The DPH is no longer presenting a measure of the change since mid-April highs for that figure and three others that are being watched closely by state officials. Instead, it now presents the percentage that figure has changed from its lowest observed value.

The seven-day weighted average of positive tests showed no change from that value.

Figures on that chart were adjusted down by 1/10 of a percent to 3/10 of a percent for every day since July 22, compared to the levels reported Tuesday. A new footnote said the numbers had been calculated from total molecular tests but gave no explanation for the changes. A DPH spokeswoman did not immediately respond to an inquiry Wednesday night.

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The three-day average of hospitalized coronavirus patients ticked up slightly from 381 on Monday to 396 as of Tuesday. That number was up 10 percent from its lowest observed value.

The number of hospitals using surge capacity rose from two to three. And the three-day average of deaths from confirmed coronavirus cases fell slightly from 13 on Saturday to 12 on Sunday — 9 percent above its lowest observed value.

A University of Massachusetts model predicts the state’s coronavirus death toll could rise to around 9,079 by Sept. 5, though researchers emphasize the numbers could range higher or lower.

The latest forecast was slightly more optimistic than last week’s forecast, which predicted the state would tally around 9,087 deaths a week earlier, by Aug. 29.

The official count of confirmed and probable coronavirus deaths was 8,751 as of Tuesday.

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.

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 has collected and its ensemble forecast to the agency, which posts the data on its own website.

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Researchers from Google in collaboration with Harvard are predicting an additional 142 deaths over a two-week period in their forecast for Aug. 10 through Aug. 23.

The closely watched University of Washington Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation model, looking further into the future, predicts that Massachusetts will see 10,314 coronavirus deaths by Dec. 1.

At the national level, the latest UMass model predicts the death tally will reach around 189,000 by Sept. 5.

The current US death toll was more than 164,000 as of Wednesday morning, according to Johns Hopkins University.

The University of Washington IHME model is now predicting about 295,000 coronavirus deaths nationwide by Dec. 1.


Martin finucane can be reached at martin.finucane@globe.com Jeremy C. Fox can be reached at jeremy.fox@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @jeremycfox.