Tipped off by social media postings, state and Revere officials said Tuesday they prevented a large outdoor gathering planned for Oct. 10 in a city now facing its highest positive testing results since May, especially among younger people.
Health and Human Services Secretary Mary Lou Sudders and Revere Mayor Brian J. Arrigo joined Governor Charlie Baker at a new testing site set up on the grounds of Suffolk Downs in Revere, a city that was one of the first hot spots when the coronavirus pandemic reached Massachusetts.
"New case counts are the highest seen since May 12,'' in Revere, Arrigo said. “The average age of residents testing positive is trending younger. And we believe that asymptomatic spread is an underlying cause of our rising cases.”
Sudders said Revere officials learned about a large gathering set for Oct. 10 in the city and, with the help of State Police, they identified the event’s promoter and blocked it from taking place.
Arrigo said State Police filed criminal charges against the promoter, but the mayor did not provide any other details. It was not planned to be a protest against wearing masks, social distancing, or other public health rules intended to slow the spread of the disease, authorities said.
The Revere gathering was disclosed as the death toll from confirmed coronavirus cases in Massachusetts rose by five to 9,537, the Department of Public Health reported Tuesday. The number of confirmed cases climbed by 821, bringing the total to 142,295.
State officials also reported that 17,238 more people had been tested for coronavirus, bringing the total to about 2.54 million. The number of administered tests climbed to about 5.3 million. The state also reported new antibody tests had been completed for 371 people, bringing that total to 124,711.
The seven-day average of positive tests per total tests administered was at 1.3 percent. The lowest observed figure for that metric — a number watched closely by state officials — is 0.8 percent.
The state also offers on its dashboard a different measure of test positivity: daily positive tests per people tested. That number, which can vary day to day, jumped up to 6.2 percent. Some experts have suggested that positive tests per people tested is a better measure of the pandemic.
Meanwhile, the three-day average of hospitalized coronavirus patients grew from 494 to 500. The lowest that metric has been is 302.
The number of hospitals using surge capacity was one, and the three-day average of deaths from confirmed cases was 15; the lowest that number has been was nine.
In Revere on Tuesday, Baker said that holding impromptu — or planned and promoted — gatherings of a large number of people is a threat to everyone’s health, especially if someone is asymptomatic and then exposes family members and co-workers to the disease.
"Those are exactly the sorts of things that create that big increase in positive test results for people between the ages of 19 and 39, which is where the vast majority of the increase in positive tests has been happening, not just here in the Commonwealth, but in many places and states around the country,'' Baker said.
He noted that local officials do not need to rely on state agencies to enforce COVID-19 guidelines and have take action themselves.
All three officials stressed that Massachusetts — and the country — will be struggling with the coronarvius beyond the the arrival of an effective and safe vaccine.
The press conference was held at Suffolk Downs where state, city, and private organizations have set up a drive-up testing site free to anyone who wants a COVID-19 test. Appointments are necessary.
The Stop the Spread site is being operated by Project Beacon, PhysicianOne Urgent Care and will test 1,000 people daily. Specimens will be processed by the Broad Institute.
The testing site is across from the Shops at Suffolk Downs on Tomasello Way at 31 Furlong Drive, according to the Baker administration.