BOSTON (AP) — The overall number of confirmed COVID-19-related deaths since the start of the coronavirus pandemic climbed to 6,640 on Thursday as another 93 deaths were reported.
The number of individuals in Massachusetts diagnosed with confirmed cases of COVID-19 closed in on 95,000 with 675 new cases reported.
The number of people currently hospitalized with the disease stood at about 2,112, down from about 2,800 two weeks ago.
The number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care stood at 529 — down from 781 two weeks ago.
Nearly 62% of those overall deaths — 4,123 — were reported at nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.
There were more than 147,000 claims for pandemic unemployment assistance last week, bringing the total number of people who have filed for help since the start of the pandemic to nearly 519,000, the state reported Thursday.
Besides the pandemic unemployment claims, 37,600 people filed an initial claim for standard unemployment insurance last week, a slight decline of about 500 from the week before, according to the state.
Since March 15, more than 897,000 initial claims have been filed for standard unemployment insurance.
Since March, customer service staff at the department has grown from about 50 employees to over 1,900.
COVID-19 REPORTING BILL
A bill that would increase the amount of statewide, publicly available data related to the coronavirus pandemic won final approval from Massachusetts lawmakers on Thursday.
Under the bill, the Department of Public Health would be required to compile, collect and issue daily online reports on the number of people tested for COVID-19, positive cases, hospitalizations and deaths along with the gender, race, ethnicity, primary residence, occupation, disability, age and primary language of each case.
The DPH already releases daily reports that include much of that information.
The legislation also requires that daily reports include demographic information from municipalities and counties with more than 25 positive cases, elder care facilities, as well as state and county correctional facilities.
It would also create a task force to study the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on communities of color and make policy recommendations.
The bill now heads to Gov. Charlie Baker’s desk.
NURSING HOME DEATHS
Massachusetts health officials are for the first time releasing details about how the coronavirus has torn through nursing and rest homes for disabled people and older adults.
Of the more than 6,500 deaths in the state attributed to the virus, more than 4,000, or about 62%, were residents of nursing or rest homes, according to data released Wednesday by the state Department of Public Health.
More than 80 such facilities in the state — about one out of five — have recorded at least 20 COVID-19-related deaths, according to the data.
The weekly report from the state Public Health Department didn’t include the Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke, a state-run home for older and ailing veterans, although the information for the home was included in a separate document for facilities under the umbrella of the state Executive Office of Health and Human Services. The 76 coronavirus-related deaths there is one of the worst outbreaks in the country.
It also did not include deaths at assisted living facilities and publicly financed senior housing.
The homes in the DPH report with the highest number of deaths include the Leavitt Family Jewish Home in Longmeadow with 66 deaths; Mary Immaculate Nursing/Restorative Center in Lawrence with 64 deaths; and Courtyard Nursing Care Center in Medford with 60 deaths.
BOSTON MARATHON CANCELED
The Boston Marathon has been canceled for the first time in its 124-year history.
Organizers said Thursday that they instead will have a “virtual event” in which participants who verify that they ran 26.2 miles on their own will receive their finisher’s medal. The race had originally been scheduled for April 20 before being postponed for five months because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Boston is planning to make some changes to its streets in the next few weeks to help ensure a safer reopening during the pandemic, Mayor Marty Walsh said Thursday.
Those changes include new bike lanes, more room for outdoor restaurant seating and expanded bus stops to help allow for social distancing.
The Democrat said the changes focus on helping create safe, reliable transportation, access to fresh air and open spaces, and building social and physical distancing into everyday life.
BOSTON PRIDE GOES VIRTUAL
Boston Pride has scheduled a series of virtual events next month to celebrate the city's LGBTQ community while protecting people during the )pandemic and the resulting ban on large gatherings.
The month of virtual events begins June 5 with the traditional raising of the rainbow pride flag by the city.
Events range from panel discussions, to cooking classes, to dance lessons. A full list is posted at bostonpride.org.
Boston Pride, marking its 50th anniversary this year, encourages everyone to show their pride by decorating their windows, doors, porches, yards, cars and even their pets for pride weekend, June 12-14, and post the results to social media with the hashtag #wickedproud.