There are currently 164 coronavirus cases in Massachusetts, state health officials shared on Sunday, and the number of residents tested went from 475 to nearly 800.
The 26 new cases were announced in a Commonwealth attempt to speed up testing for coronavirus after restrictions have been relaxed on the test protocols.
New guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention requires doctors only to present a nasal swab instead of presenting previously required nasal and throat swabs. With the modification of the clinical test protocols, the state laboratory test capacity has doubled from 200 to around 400 patients per day.
Massachusetts doctors also now have greater flexibility to determine which patients should be tested without having to call DPH’s Epi Line.
With multiple clinical laboratories in the Bay State working to obtain FDA approval, health officials say that even more testing capabilities will soon be available.
As of Sunday, the Massachusetts State Public Health Laboratory has tested 799 patients, officials said, compared to 475 the previous day.
Forty-five of the 164 positive state cases were subsequently confirmed by the CDC.
Governor Charlie Baker is expected to provide an update on Sunday night about state testing efforts and what is being done to slow the spread of coronavirus in the Commonwealth.
Governor Baker and Governor Lieutenant Karyn Polito will join Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders and Commissioner of the Public Health Department Dr. Monica Bharel at the State House at 18:00. The Baker-Polito administration says that, contrary to popular rumors, it is not preparing a refuge in order.
Four of the 26 new cases announced on Sunday are related to the employee meeting held at a Boston hotel by Cambridge Biogen biotechnology company last month. Health officials say 108 of the 164 cases are now related to the February 24-27 meeting held at the Marriott Long Wharf hotel, which has since closed “in the interest of public health”.
In new cases, a healthcare professional is included at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. The hospital announced the case Sunday morning and said that patients and staff who may have had contact with the infected worker are being contacted.
Eight more cases are associated with travel, bringing the total to 13. Eight remain associated with a cluster in western Massachusetts and 35 of these are currently under investigation, health officials say.
Of the 164 cases in the state, 74 are women and 90 are men. Middlesex County residents still account for nearly half, 75 of the cases across the state. The counties of Norfolk and Suffolk both have 31 cases, while there are nine cases in County Berkshire. There are now six cases each in the Essex and Worcester counties.
The counties of Plymouth, Hampden, Barnstable and Bristol have one case each. Two cases are of unknown counties at the moment.
Two other patients have been hospitalized, bringing the total to 13 so far, although another 36 cases are listed as being investigated, according to Sunday’s data.
The update in coronavirus cases on Sunday came shortly after Boston Mayor Marty Walsh declared a public health emergency for the coronavirus epidemic and announced radical changes for bars and restaurants in the city in an attempt to protect residents.
Boston EMS urges people not to call 911 to request COVID-19 tests. People are asked to call their primary care providers, the mayor’s hotline at 617-534-5050 or the state DPH hotline at 211.
Virus-related symptoms include fever (100.4 ° F or higher), cough, breathing difficulties or shortness of breath.
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