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Surge in new virus cases in Massachusetts driven by people under 30

BOSTON (AP) — The recent surge in confirmed coronavirus cases in Massachusetts is being driven in large part by an increase among younger people, Gov. Charlie Baker said Tuesday.

Whereas 15% of new cases in April were among people under age 30, now 37% of the new confirmed cases are people in that age group, the Republican governor said at a news conference at which he urged people to stop partying.

“According to our most recent data, about 300 people per day under 30 have contracted COVID-19, have tested positive for it, with about 38,000 people in this age group diagnosed since March,” he said.

More than half the new cases have been traced to social gatherings and household transmission, and there have been more reports of indoor parties as the weather has turned cooler, Baker said. He reminded people that outdoor trick-or-treating on Halloween is safer than an indoor party.

“To keep case rates down, and help us not only keep people healthy, but also ensure that our hospitals continue to have the capacity they need to serve their patients, our young people need to be serious about dealing with COVID," he said.

Baker also urged people to limit Thanksgiving gatherings to members of the same household, or if mixing households, limit the number of guests to as few as possible.

He also shed new light on the state's decision last week to close indoor skating rinks for two weeks in response to an increase in cases linked to youth hockey games.

He blamed the closures on “irresponsible" parents and coaches who didn't cooperate with state contact tracers, including some who refused to supply team rosters.

“Youth hockey needs to make some changes," he said.

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VIRUS BY THE NUMBERS

The state Department of Public Health reported more than 1,000 new confirmed coronavirus cases for the fourth consecutive day on Tuesday, as the 7-day rolling average of the positivity rate and daily new cases in the state continued to rise.

The state reported 1,025 new confirmed cases and seven deaths Tuesday.

The 7-day rolling average of the positivity rate in Massachusetts has now risen over the past two weeks from 0.95% on Oct. 12 to more than 1.5% on Monday, according to the Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering.

The 7-day rolling average of daily new cases in Massachusetts has also risen over the past two weeks from more than 600 on Oct. 12 to more than 1,041 on Monday, according to Johns Hopkins.

The number of people in the state's hospitals with the disease rose to 567, up from 550 the previous day. The number of patients in intensive care rose to 109 from 105.

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UNEMPLOYMENT HELP

About 17,000 Massachusetts residents who have lost their jobs during the coronavirus pandemic but were ineligible for additional federal benefits are getting an additional $1,800 from the state.

The bill providing the extra cash was passed by the Legislature on Monday and signed into law by Baker shortly after approval.

“This legislation will make the necessary changes to make sure people with less than $100 in weekly benefits receive that $1,800 in added income,” said state Sen. Patricia Jehlen, the Somerville Democrat who sponsored the bill.

“The money will get spent locally by Massachusetts residents for rent, for food, and other expenses,” she said.

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UMASS-LOWELL

The University of Massachusetts Lowell plans to bring more students back to live on campus and hold more in-person classes during the spring semester based on lessons learned to control spread of the coronavirus this fall.

“With a half semester of experience and lessons learned about safely conducting classes and university operations in the midst of the pandemic, we’re confident we can expand our on-campus population, in-person learning and activities in January,” Chancellor Jacquie Moloney said in a letter to the campus community on Monday.

The university hopes to offer up to 30% of its 3,000 course sections in in-person and hybrid formats in the spring. The school also plans to more than double the residential student population in the spring up to 2,000, about 40% of capacity.

The school has had only two confirmed coronavirus cases this fall.

 

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