BOSTON (AP) — The Massachusetts death toll from COVID-19 surged past 5,000 on Monday even as the state began mapping out plans to gradually restart the state’s economy.
Massachusetts reported another 129 confirmed COVID-19-related death, bringing to 5,108 the total number of deaths recorded in the state since the pandemic’s start.
The total number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Massachusetts neared 78,500 after the state reported an additional 669 individuals who tested positive for the disease caused by the coronavirus.
There were more than 800 COVID-19 patients in intensive care, while there were about 3,100 people overall currently hospitalized with COVID-19.
The number of deaths at long-term care facilities stands at 3,071 — or more than 60% of all COVID-19-related deaths in the state.
Gov. Charlie Baker began outlining a four-phase plan Monday to reopen Massachusetts businesses that have been closed since late March as part of the state’s effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
The reopening is set to begin May 18 and will require businesses to adopt a series of protocols to maintain the health of workers and customers.
Baker said the first phase would begin with businesses with little face-to-face contact and with customers and “severe restrictions,” followed by phase two that will allow businesses with more face-to-face contact to open with precautions.
Those precautions include ensuring employees and customers maintain a six-foot distance whenever possible; requiring the use of facial coverings; making sure hand-washing facilities are available; sanitizing high contact areas like door handles; and making sure employees displaying COVID-19 symptoms don’t report for work.
Baker said the 17-member commission charged with drafting the economic reopening plan will also release industry specific guidelines.
Baker said the state will have to be adaptable throughout the process to get to phase four — what he called “the new normal.”
“We’ve been one of the hardest-hit states,” Baker said. “That means we have to flexible and honest.”
Baker said that even with the phased-in reopening, testing will continue and ramp up through the fall to monitor the disease's spread and identify outbreaks early.
Business leaders say they’re ready to do what it takes to get their doors open. All nonessential businesses have been shuttered since March 23.
“It is encouraging to hear Gov. Baker outlining preliminary steps for reopening the Massachusetts economy over the coming weeks because too many small businesses have had their doors closed for an extended period,” Christopher Carlozzi, the state director of National Federation of Independent Business, said in a statement Monday.
SUPER BOWL RING
New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft has donated one of his six Super Bowl championship rings to an auction that raises money to provide meals for those in need during the coronavirus pandemic.
Kraft in a video said he has been inspired by medical workers caring for patients with the virus.
He offered his Super Bowl 51 ring to the All In Challenge because the Patriots recovered from a 28-3 deficit against the Atlanta Falcons in 2017 for a 34-28 overtime victory.
The ring “showed how we came back,” he said.
All of the money raised will go directly to Feeding America, Meals On Wheels, World Central Kitchen and No Kid Hungry.
The top bid for the ring as of Monday morning was $330,000. Bids will be accepted for another 10 days.
The 5.1-carat weight white gold ring features 283 diamonds surrounding the Patriots logo and five Lombardi trophies.
The pastor of a Massachusetts church continues to defy a state ban of gatherings of more than 10 people during the pandemic.
Worshipers gathered at the Adams Square Baptist church for the third Sunday in a row over the weekend.
“We have a right to disobey,” the Rev. Kris Casey said Sunday. “I can’t baptize someone on a Zoom meeting.”
People who come to the services are required to get their temperature taken and must wear face coverings and gloves, Casey said. The church has been cleaned three times in the past week, he said.
He didn't specify how many people attended Sunday, but said it was more than 10.
The city previously fined Casey twice for holding services.
The town of Brookline has furloughed another 95 municipal workers, bringing the total number of furloughs in the Boston suburb to about 200.
Most of the 95 furloughs announced last week were part-time library workers and school crossing guards, but the police department’s parking enforcement program and the recreation department also were affected, the town said in a statement.
Furloughed employees are guaranteed the chance to resume their jobs “if and when circumstances allow them to,” the statement said.
This story has been corrected to show that the Patriots defeated the Falcons 34-28 in Super Bowl 51, not 38-24.