Fifty new deaths related to COVID-19 reported in Mass on Saturday

Another 789 COVID-19 cases were confirmed in Massachusetts on Saturday, bringing the state's total caseload to 96,301.

The Department of Public Health also reported 50 new deaths attributed to the respiratory disease. The average age of people who have died in Massachusetts from COVID-19 is 82, and the county with the highest rate of deaths is Hampden County, where a string of deaths and COVID-19 cases at the Holyoke Soldiers' Home are the subject of multiple investigations.

A total of 6,768 people have died from COVID-19 in Massachusetts since March 20, when state officials reported the first death linked to the novel coronavirus. Sixty-two percent of those deaths occurred in long-term care facilities. Saturday's report showed 1,904 people hospitalized for coronavirus, with 453 people battling the disease in intensive care units.

Gov. Charlie Baker has one week remaining to act on a bill passed Thursday that spells out COVID-19 data reporting requirements for the state and calls for elder care facilities -- including nursing homes, the soldiers' homes in Chelsea and Holyoke, and assisted living facilities -- to make daily COVID-19 reports to their local health departments. The bill (H 4672) would also create a task force to address health disparities that underserved communities face in the pandemic.

"I think it's a really strong statement, particularly now, that we value our populations and our communities of color, our disability community, our elders. In a time of what's going on in Minneapolis, it's a statement that we all need to focus on accountability and racial justice," Senate President Karen Spilka said of the bill, referencing George Floyd, a black man in Minnesota who died after he was pinned down by a police officer with a knee on his neck.

Asked about the bill during his Friday afternoon press conference, Baker indicated he was still reviewing it.

"Obviously we care a lot about reporting," the governor said. "We've done a lot of work to enhance our reporting here in the commonwealth. We think it's important."