Life on the coronavirus plateau

Cases, deaths keep rising; spread continues among municipalities

MASSACHUSETTS OFFICIALS are starting to plan for a “new normal,” but the coronavirus is acting as if it’s not going away.

Statistics released on Wednesday indicate the surge is now in its third week, with cases and deaths continuing to mount and more and more municipalities seeing an increased number of infections.

Despite the state’s social distancing efforts, the number of new cases increased by 1,963 on Wednesday and the number of deaths jumped by 252, the highest one-day spike so far. COVID-19 cases appear to be spread throughout the state, but the deaths are concentrated heavily in long-term care facilities. Nursing homes accounted for more than two-thirds of the new deaths reported on Wednesday and now represent 58 percent of the 3,405 COVID-19 deaths in the state.

The key metrics monitored by the Baker administration indicated the surge is refusing to crest and break. COVID-19 hospitalizations fell slightly by 19 patients to 3,856, but remained at the plateau level of 3,600 to 3,900 patients for the fifteenth day. COVID-19 cases in hospital intensive care units increased slightly and remained above 1,000. One bright spot: the percent of COVID-19 cases currently hospitalized fell from 7 percent to 6 percent on Wednesday.

Boston continued to have the most COVID-19 cases in the state at 9,284, but on a per capita basis Chelsea remained the hardest-hit community. Chelsea had 1,965 cases as of Wednesday, up 36 percent from a week ago. That works out to 5,217 cases per 100,000 residents.

Brockton was No. 2 on a per capita basis, at 2,783 cases per 100,000 residents, followed by Everett (2,068), Lynn (2,037), Randolph (1,879), Lawrence (1,858), Revere (1843), Danvers (1,635), Holyoke (1,446), Topsfield (1,488), Stoughton (1,449), Braintree (1448), Lowell (1,411), and Norwood (1,295).

Meet the Author

Bruce Mohl

Editor, CommonWealth

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

The statewide average for cases per 100,000 residents was 865 this week, up from 616 last week.

Topsfield’s numbers are inflated by an outbreak at a nursing home in the town. Some of the other communities may have been similarly impacted, but it’s often hard to tell because the state doesn’t release detailed case and death information for individual nursing homes.