Coronavirus Infections have increased slightly in recent weeks, possibly as a result of several “small clusters” of cases, officials have been monitoring recent gatherings closely, Gov. Charlie Baker said on Monday.
The statewide positive test rate has dropped from about 1.7% to about 2%, Baker said.
“We are aware of some of the small groups associated with the rallies,” Baker said during his daily press briefing. “Obviously, we would rather not see any new cases of COVID, but we know that just won’t be the case until we have a medical breakthrough like a vaccine.”
Baystate Health reported on Monday an outbreak of new infections at Baystate Medical Center reaching 23 employees and 13 patients. Baystate Health president and CEO Dr Mark Keroack said the outbreak could be traced to a single employee, who returned to work after visiting a state identified as a new virus hotspot.
Baker also alluded to the recent outbreak in the Cape Cod town of Chatham after it was reported that at least 10 people who attended a house party on July 12 tested positive for the coronavirus. Cape Town officials announced on Sunday that they offer pop tests for anyone who attended the party or who is a close contact of someone who was there.
Baker said the state’s contact tracing program was working to track outbreaks linked to these events and officials were closely monitoring public health data for any new trends.
When asked if he thinks the state should turn the tide of its plan to reopen, Baker said he believes the small groups, which officials say are behind the increase, are in part due to people “letting their guard down,” adding that residents must continue. practice social distancing and wear a face mask.
“When we look at what are the clusters that have been created so far, a lot of them are the result of people not doing the things we’ve told everyone else to do, which has a lot less to do with the nature of what is open. and what is not open, ”he said.
“We can also assume that there is just a lot more mobility there due to the increase in economic activity,” Baker added. “Some of them are also just people who are on the move. It’s hot; and people in general are probably more in touch with people now than there was in the months of April, May and even June. “
Baker announced on Monday that the state expands free coronavirus testing program to eight other communities with slightly higher infection rates, including Springfield and Worcester. The initiative, baptized “Stop the spread”, launched on July 10, and includes free testing at sites in Chelsea, Everett, Fall River, Lawrence, Lowell, Lynn, Marlborough and New Bedford, where officials have observed higher infection rates and lower testing levels .
The program will now expand to Agawam, Brockton, Methuen, Randolph, Revere, Springfield, Taunton and Worcester. These communities make up about 10% of Massachusetts’ population, but about 15% of the state’s positive COVID-19 tests in the past week or so, Baker said.