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Mass. COVID-19 Deaths Top 1,500, As Army Chief Declares 'We Will Defeat This Virus'

A medical worker talks to a man going through the testing process at Connecticut's first COVID-19 rapid testing center in New Haven, Connecticut.
Ryan Caron King
Connecticut Public Radio
A medical worker talks to a man going through the testing process at Connecticut's first COVID-19 rapid testing center in New Haven, Connecticut.

Massachusetts recorded nearly 2,000 new COVID-19 infections and 156 new deaths were reported in the last 24 hours, according to statistics posted Saturday afternoon by state public health officials.

Of the new deaths, 20 were from western Massachusetts — 19 from Hampden County and one from Berkshire County. No new deaths were reported in Hampshire or Franklin counties.

The data shows elevated infection and death figures are continuing as the Massachusetts health care system tries to hold up against a surge in patients needing medical care and hoping to survive a virus that's been labeled insidious and invisible.

Officials reported 1,970 new cases for a total of 36,372 cases to date.

So far, 1,560 Massachusetts residents have lost their lives to COVID-19, which has ravaged the state quickly in recent weeks and left vast segments of the economy shut down.

The state reported 159 deaths in its Friday report, 137 on Thursday, 151 on Wednesday, 113 on Tuesday, and 88 on Monday.

More than half of the deaths, or 810, have come in long-term care facilities, where 5,790 infections have been reported.

One new COVID-19 death was reported in the state’s daily update on the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home. Since the last week of March, the state-run facility for veterans has recorded the deaths of at least 48 residents who tested positive for the disease. The Chelsea Soldiers’ Home has reported nine such deaths.

Gov. Charlie Baker on Saturday visited Boston Hope, a field hospital set up at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center. He was joined there by U.S. Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville.

"We're all going to work together with a whole-of-government effort to defeat it and we will defeat this virus," McConville, a Quincy native, said.

At the field hospital, Baker said testing, contact tracing and isolation make up a "crucial element in our ability to provide people with confidence that we're doing all the things we need to do to contain the virus on a go-forward basis once we get past the surge." He touted the state's status as "a top five player in terms of testing per capita in the United States."

The 156,806 people who have been tested for COVID-19 as of Saturday afternoon account for about 2% of the population in a state with approximately 6.9 million residents.

"If you were to say to me today, 'What's the right number of testing?' I would say I'm not sure," Baker said. "I just know it's a lot more than we're doing now, even though we're one of the three or four biggest testers on a per capita basis in the country right now."

COVID-19 associated deaths in Connecticut rose to 1,086 on Saturday, as the state reported 50 new fatalities. For the first time, the number of patients hospitalized for the disease has dropped.

But The Connecticut Mirror reports that union officials representing nursing home workers said relatives of two workers have died of the disease.

“It means an extra level of sadness, because those workers feel they brought the virus home,” said Pedro Zayas, a spokesman for SIEU 1199NE.

The bulk of this story was written by Michael P. Norton and Katie Lannan of the State House News Service, with some additional information from NEPR's Sam Hudzik.

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