ADJOURNED 'til Monday at 11 a.m. (Informal)
ADJOURNED 'til Monday at 11 a.m. (No Calendar)

SHNS Coronavirus Tracker

More than 3,000 new COVID-19 cases were confirmed in Massachusetts on Wednesday, bringing the state's cumulative caseload to 207,284 as the Department of Public Health also reported 53 new deaths linked to the respiratory disease.

The 3,224 new cases came from 129,833 tests, representing a positive rate of 2.48 percent, which is below the current seven day average of 3 percent.

Case, test and death numbers are all higher than they've been in recent reports, and the DPH offered one possible explanation for that spike. The department said a technological issue "resulted in an interruption of the data download" for Wednesday's numbers, which were published after 6:30 p.m. and "reflect case counts from up to a 30 hour period."

The DPH will not publish its daily or weekly update on the Thanksgiving holiday. Friday's daily report will include two days worth of data, and the weekly report will be posted online Friday.

Officials including Gov. Charlie Baker and Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel have urged people to celebrate Thanksgiving in-person with only members of their own household this year and to avoid the kinds of larger, informal social gatherings that drive spread of the highly infectious virus.

"With a bit of patience, we can get to the other side of this pandemic," Bharel said Monday. "There is hope, there is light at the end of this tunnel, and I'm really hopeful that there will be a COVID vaccine available to everyone in 2021, so we're asking individuals to just stay vigilant. Now is not the time to let our guard down, because the stakes are just too high."

In Boston, Mayor Marty Walsh said COVID-19 numbers are trending "in the right direction," including decreases in positivity rates across most neighborhoods, and encouraged people to continue taking precautions, especially over the holiday.

For those still in search of a new Thanksgiving plan this year, Gaming Commission Chair Cathy Judd-Stein made a suggestion keying off a vote the council took Wednesday: a takeout meal from one of the restaurants at Encore Boston Harbor, newly allowed to sell alcoholic beverages with their to-go food orders. - Katie Lannan

  • Polito: Length of State of Emergency Was Initially Thought To Be Weeks: As she explained to local officials the intricacies of bouncing between steps in the state's phased reopening plan, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito recently she some light on how the COVID-19 pandemic was first viewed within state government upon its arrival here in February and March. "When in March we announced state of emergency we thought it would be for a couple of, or a few weeks. Well, it turned into a lot longer journey, and we've been in the tunnel for a very long time," Polito said. The recent news from three companies who are optimistic about their vaccines offers "some hope and some light at the end of this tunnel," she said during a Nov. 19 conference call with local officials. "It's very hopeful to all of us that that vaccine will be distributed in our communities and across our country in a relatively short period of time from now," Polito said. "But we still have a distance to go before we get there." With confirmed and unconfirmed virus cases rising, Polito also revealed the "number one question" that she and other public officials get from people, either in face-to-face conversations or through texts. " 'Are you as a state going to close business? Are you going to lock down? Are you going to roll back?' I hear this multiple times in a day and I'm sure that you do too," Polito said. The answer from the Baker administration? "We want to continue to have a targeted approach to targeting problems and looking at those problems rather than a rollback or closure," Polito said, touting improvements in testing capacity, hospital readiness, and personal protective equipment stockpiles. - Michael P. Norton 1:34 PM Wed
  • Markey Bill Incentivizes State Mask Mandates: States would be able to access a new batch of federal funding by adopting clear face covering or mask mandates during the pandemic under a new bill U.S. Sen. Ed Markey announced Wednesday. The bill, which Markey filed alongside Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, would infuse the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund with another $5 billion available to states with mask mandates in place. It would also distribute a total of $75 million in grants to help states promote the use of masks and face coverings in public and require their use on federal property. The senators described their legislation as a crucial public health action -- Blumenthal called mask-wearing "a moral and health mandate" -- as the country grapples with widespread rapid transmission of the highly infectious virus. "Masks and face coverings are the essential public health tool to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic," Markey said in a statement. "As President-elect (Joe) Biden recognizes, we need to use every technique available to us to encourage mask use, from clear communication of the need for masks, to providing masks to those who need them, to leading by example, and even to mandating mask use nationwide." - Chris Lisinski 1:10 PM Wed
  • Airport Travel at Pandemic Highs Despite Warnings: The constant urging from elected officials and health experts against traveling for Thanksgiving appears to have had, at best, muted effects. In recent days, Americans have traveled through airports in the largest volumes observed since mid-March, according to data the TSA publishes daily. Between Friday and Tuesday -- the five days immediately after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control formally recommended celebrating Thanksgiving at home with only those who live in the same household -- TSA recorded more than 4.8 million passengers passing through airport checkpoints, the highest five-day total in the past eight months. Total travelers surpassed 1 million on both Friday and Sunday for only the second and third time since the pandemic took full effect on the country. Passenger volumes over the past week are at roughly 40 percent of the levels observed in 2019, a rate almost certain to worry leaders who have cautioned for weeks that unnecessary interpersonal contact during the holidays could accelerate an already-underway surge of the highly infectious virus. - Chris Lisinski 11:31 AM Wed
  • COVID Not a Rating Driver for Boston: The pandemic is extracting a significant toll from Boston families and businesses, but it's not a major factor when considering the city's overall financial health, a credit rating agency said this week. Moody's Investor Services this week assigned a Aaa rating (its highest rating) and a stable outlook to $270 million worth of Boston general obligation bonds and said the city's reliance on property taxes nullifies some of the effects of the COVID-19 crisis. "Despite a recent spike in the unemployment rate and decline in smaller economically sensitive revenue, the coronavirus pandemic is not a rating driver given the city's reliance on property taxes as the primary revenue source," the rating agency wrote. Moody's said it gave Boston the highest possible rating after considering "the very large and stable tax base and the city's prominence as the regional economic center of New England that is further bolstered by significant government, higher education and health care sectors." The stable outlook, the agency said, "further incorporates our expectation that the tax base will continue to grow and remain stable during the outlook time frame." -- Colin A. Young 8:57 AM Wed

Latest COVID-19 Figures in Mass.

Data as of 5 p.m. Wednesday.
New Confirmed Cases3,224
Total Confirmed Cases207,284
Total Deaths10,604

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