Mass nearing previous high for active Covid cases

The number of active cases of the highly-contagious coronavirus in Massachusetts rose by more than 16 percent over the last week, public health officials said Wednesday evening. At 6,744 active cases of COVID-19 confirmed, Massachusetts is within shouting distance of its previous high number of confirmed infected patients -- 7,300 set in early June.

There were 3,346 new cases of COVID-19 confirmed in Massachusetts over the last week and another 2,289 people recovered from their fights with the coronavirus during the same time. There were 107 deaths due to the virus over the week. That means there was a net addition of 950 people in isolation with confirmed cases of COVID-19 -- almost twice as many new active cases as in the previous week.

The number of people with active cases of COVID-19 has been steady or climbing since the beginning of July. As the number of people who could infect others with the highly-contagious virus has climbed, Massachusetts has pushed ahead with further reopenings -- some based on where cases are being identified -- some school districts and college campuses have welcomed students physically back to school, and Gov. Charlie Baker has loosened restrictions on restaurant dining and large gatherings at indoor performance venues.

During the time period that the number of active cases has been growing, the number of tests processed each day has generally been on the rise, too, and the share of tests that come back positive fell to a low point of 0.8 percent before ticking back up. The state began reporting the number of recoveries and the number of people under isolation in early June. At the highest point, there were 7,300 active cases in the June 10 report and the 2,586 active cases reported both July 8 and July 15 represent the low-water mark. The number of active coronavirus cases has increased each week since the July 15 report.

Doctors voice 'serious concerns'

The Massachusetts Medical Society is voicing "serious concerns" around recent upward trends in COVID-19 data. In a Thursday statement, MMS President Dr. David Rosman urged people to contact their health care provider immediately if they experience symptoms of the respiratory disease or are exposed to anyone who tests positive.

"The Massachusetts Medical Society has been watching intently key indicators related to COVID-19, including the state's positive test rates and daily new cases," Rosman said. "We have serious concerns regarding daily individual positive test results that have doubled since the summer to approximately 3 percent and a sharp increase in daily new cases, which has on several occasions in recent weeks surpassed 500. As cool weather approaches, moving many activities indoors, every effort must be made to slow the spread of the virus and fend off a surge in cases that will bring with it the potential to overwhelm and deplete our state's health care resources and imperil the ability to keep children in school."

- Katie Lannan