'Still in the surge': Virus keeps a hold on Massachusetts

People wear face masks out of concern for the coronavirus as they wait to enter a supermarket Sunday, April 26, 2020, in Chelsea, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
People wear face masks out of concern for the coronavirus as they wait to enter a supermarket Sunday, April 26, 2020, in Chelsea, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

The coronavirus kept a tight grip Monday on hard-hit Massachusetts, which is barreling toward 1,000 new deaths in just five days as the pandemic peaks in the state.

Massachusetts is getting ready to surpass 3,000 reported deaths, and there are indications the true death toll from the disease could be much higher. Officials are hopeful things could be turning a corner, but devastation remains apparent as newspapers print page after page of death notices.

The state is “still in the surge and very much in the fight against COVID-19,” Republican Gov. Charlie Baker told reporters Monday. “We will keep the fight up all the way to the end, knowing that when we come out the other side there will be better times and brighter days.”

Massachusetts health officials reported 169 new COVID-19 deaths Sunday, bringing the number of deaths in the state since the pandemic began to 2,899. The state also reported 1,590 new cases, for a total of almost 55,000 cases.

An analysis from The Boston Globe suggests that the deaths are probably undercounted, since total deaths in the state rose by 11% last month compared with the average for March over the past 20 years even as the state saw a steep decline in fatal accidents and suicides.

In a picture of the toll the virus has taken on the state, the Globe on Sunday ran 21 pages of paid death notices. On the same Sunday last year, the Globe ran just seven pages of death notices, the newspaper said.

More than 1,600 of the deaths in Massachusetts have been residents of long-term care facilities, such as nursing homes, and more than 98% of all the people who died had other health problems, health officials say. The average age of people who have died is 82.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough, that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and the infirm, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.