Massachusetts on Sunday reported 1,050 new cases of the novel coronavirus, including 139 fatal cases.
The death toll now stands at 4,979 while Massachusetts has had 77,793 people test positive, according to the Department of Public Health’s daily report on the coronavirus.
It was the fourth consecutive day the number of new cases reported by the state decreased, though officials have warned against reading too far into daily statistics.
Gov. Charlie Baker has said he is watching key statistics closely to determine if Massachusetts can begin reopening on May 18, even if large-scale events in Boston are suspended this summer.
Baker has named four key statistics: how many coronavirus tests are coming back positive, what percentage of all infected people are in the hospital, the total number of people hospitalized and the number of people in intensive care units.
On Sunday, the percentage of tests that came back positive ticked down to 9%, the lowest point in the months of April and May, when coronavirus cases have surged.
The percentage of people with coronavirus in the hospital remained at 4% after ticking down from 5% last week. The number of hospitalizations fell by 101 to 3,128; and the number of patients in intensive care units fell by four to 810.
Baker says any reopening of the economy must be preceded by a decrease of coronavirus patients in hospitals and field hospitals.
While Baker has cautioned that one day’s results don’t indicate a trend — 208 deaths were reported Wednesday, but that appears to have been a blip among fatalities in the mid-100s this week — the numbers remained promising Sunday.
Middlesex County remains the Massachusetts county with the most deaths, 1,207, but it doesn’t have the highest death rate. That’s Hampden County, which has seen 95 deaths per 100,000 residents. That’s followed by Norfolk (91 per 100,000), Suffolk (88 per 100,000) and Essex (81 per 100,000) counties.
Gov. Charlie Baker announces new numbers, discusses testing data in Mass.
Middlesex County also continues to have the most coronavirus cases, with 17,589, followed by Suffolk at 15,279, Essex at 11,353 and Worcester at 7,743.
Massachusetts is one of the epicenters of COVID-19 in the U.S., with the third-most cases and fourth-most fatalities among all states. Illinois, with a population nearly twice that of the Bay State, is slowly catching up to its number of confirmed coronavirus cases.
Baker and other health officials have said Massachusetts’ high tallies may be due in part to a strong commitment to testing — more than 375,000 tests have been conducted as of Saturday, according to the Department of Health.