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Mass. reports 646 new confirmed coronavirus cases, 22 new deaths

Nurses waited in protective gear as a family arrived for COVID-19 tests in a testing site in a parking lot off Manchester Street in Lawrence.
Nurses waited in protective gear as a family arrived for COVID-19 tests in a testing site in a parking lot off Manchester Street in Lawrence.Suzanne Kreiter/Globe staff

The death toll from confirmed coronavirus cases in Massachusetts rose by 22 to 9,559, the Department of Public Health reported Wednesday. The number of confirmed cases climbed by 646, bringing the total to 142,941.

State officials also reported that 12,722 more people had been tested for coronavirus, bringing the total to more than 2.56 million. The number of administered tests climbed to more than 5.36 million. The state also reported that new antibody tests had been completed for 123 people, bringing that total to 124,834.

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.

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The state also offers on its dashboard a different measure of test positivity: daily positive tests per people tested. That number was 4.4 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 500 to 512. The lowest that metric has been is 302.

The number of hospitals using surge capacity was two, and the three-day average of deaths from confirmed cases was 14; the lowest that number has been is nine.

In related news, a University of Massachusetts model suggests the state’s coronavirus death tally will pass the 10,000 mark in several weeks.

The model says the state could reach 10,220 deaths by Nov. 14, though researchers noted the numbers could range between 10,084 and 10,390.

The model numbers reflect both confirmed and probable coronavirus deaths. The state had tallied 9,780 confirmed and probable deaths as of Tuesday.

The rate of deaths reported each day has declined after a terrifying climb this spring. But the heartbreaking numbers have not gone to zero.

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Case numbers have been generally rising in recent weeks. The model sees the numbers ticking up and down over the next four weeks, ending on an uptick.

Governor Charlie Baker has acknowledged the recent rise in cases, but says the state is prepared for the fall and winter.

The projection comes from a lab headed by UMass Amherst associate professor Nicholas Reich that collects various models and develops a combined forecast that is intended to reflect their collective wisdom.

The lab only creates the forecast for a four-week window ahead because researchers believe forecasts aren’t reliable enough after that.

Reich’s lab posts its national- and state-level data every week 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.

Researchers from Google who have collaborated with Harvard on a model that looks only two weeks ahead predicted 10,119 coronavirus deaths in Massachusetts by Nov. 1. The UMass model is more optimistic, predicting around 9,951 deaths by Oct. 31.

The UMass model also predicts that the total number of deaths in the United States from coronavirus will reach around 240,000 by Nov. 14.

While US cases have been on the rise, prompting alarm about a devastating new surge, the UMass model sees the national case numbers stabilizing in the next four weeks. Reich said in an e-mail that he believed that the actual numbers would be “a bit above” the lab’s forecast.

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Looking further into the future, the closely followed model from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation sees much more suffering and grief ahead. It has projected that the nation could tally around 390,000 coronavirus deaths by Feb. 1.


Martin finucane can be reached at martin.finucane@globe.com.