By STEVE LeBLANC and MARK PRATT, The Associated Press
BOSTON (AP) — The number of new COVID-19 cases has ticked up in Massachusetts.
On Tuesday, the state reported 438 newly confirmed cases and 108 new probable cases, for a total of more than 540 confirmed and probable cases. That brings the total number of confirmed and probable cases to more than 119,000 in Massachusetts since the start of the pandemic.
The state also reported nine newly confirmed deaths linked to COVID-19 on Tuesday — bringing the number of confirmed and probable deaths to 8,657.
There were 354 people reported hospitalized Tuesday because of COVID-19, while 56 were in intensive care units.
The number of confirmed and probable COVID-19 related deaths at long-term care homes rose to 5,512 or nearly 64% of all confirmed and probable deaths in Massachusetts attributed to the disease.
Rhode Island has been removed from a list of lower risk states that allowed residents there to be exempted from Massachusetts travel quarantine requirements.
Health officials said Tuesday the decision to remove Rhode Island was due to increases in both the state’s positive test rate and cases per 100,000.
Thousands of travelers to Massachusetts have begun filling out forms required by the state to help combat the spread of the coronavirus, Gov. Charlie Baker said Tuesday.
On Saturday, the state began requiring visitors comply with a new executive order mandating they quarantine for 14 days or face a $500-per-day fine.
That includes residents returning home from out-of-state trips.
Travelers who can produce a negative COVID-19 test result that has been administered up to 72 hours before their arrival in Massachusetts are exempt.
Those visiting from a lower-risk state including every New England state — except Rhode Island —and New York, New Jersey and Hawaii are exempted from completing the online form.
There are also exemptions for people passing through the state, people who commute across state lines for work, and for those traveling to Massachusetts for medical treatment or to comply with military orders.
Eleven people at the Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke have again tested positive for COVID-19, state health officials said Tuesday.
Four veteran residents have been placed in isolation, and seven staffers have been asked to self-quarantine over the past week, according to officials. All 11 had previously tested positive and are considered clinically recovered from COVID-19.
None are showing symptoms and the tests may have an alternate non-COVID explanation. Health officials said the home has implemented protocols for clinically recovered individuals who may test positive even after they are clinically recovered.
The veterans’ home, which was the site of one of the deadliest outbreaks of the virus in a nursing home in the nation, with 76 resident deaths, has suspended visits until Aug. 11 in response to the new cases.
NURSING HOME WARNINGS
The Massachusetts’ state Medicaid program has issued termination notices to three private nursing homes for allegedly failing to meet care expectations during the coronavirus pandemic.
Hermitage Healthcare in Worcester, Town and Country Health Care Center in Lowell, and Wareham Healthcare received the notices Monday from the Executive Office of Health and Human Services. The notices are the first step in being eliminated from MassHealth, which could force the facilities to close.
Next Step Healthcare, the parent company of Hermitage Healthcare and Wareham Healthcare, said in a statement to The Boston Globe that the state Department of Public Health had found both facilities in compliance with infection control standards on three out of four recent visits.
The company said it would appeal both decisions.
A person who answered a phone call to Town and Country on Monday told The Sun of Lowell that the facility would have no comment.
Hermitage Healthcare has had 12 deaths from COVID-19, Town and Country has had 10 deaths and Wareham Healthcare has had no reported deaths.
The state said the facilities demonstrated poor adherence to basic infection control practices.
Salem is scaling back Halloween celebrations because of the coronavirus.
Each year thousands of revelers descend on Salem, which has embraced the moniker of “Witch City,” a reference to the infamous witch trials of the late 1600s. But the mayor’s office announced Tuesday that many city-run events are being canceled.
The Salem News reports events that have been called off include the Haunted Happenings grand parade, food truck festivals, the Great Salem Pumpkin Walk, and the Mayor’s Night Out.
A Massachusetts town has canceled high school graduation after a “prom-like” house party sparked concerns of COVID-19 transmission among parents and students.
Cohasset Superintendent Patrick Sullivan and Cohasset High School Principal Brian Scott said in a letter to families this week that canceling graduation was the “most prudent course of action“ given the July 25 party happened so close to this Friday’s ceremony.
Town officials said last Friday there have so far been no reported cases of the virus linked to the party, but have urged all those who attended to get tested, since photos from the event show many were not wearing face masks or socially distancing.
RESTAURANT WORKERS PARTY
No new cases have been reported from an outbreak on Cape Cod stemming from Chatham house party attended by restaurant workers, town officials said Tuesday.
Robert Duncanson, Chatham’s health director, said 33 of the 34 people tested at a “pop-up” testing site offered July 27 have tested negative for COVID-19. One test result is still pending, he said.
The July 12 party has been linked to at least 13 positive cases of the virus.
FREE TESTING SITE
Framingham is the latest Massachusetts community to get a free coronavirus testing site as part of the state’s Stop the Spread program.
The free testing sites are set up in communities that are above the state average in total cases, positive test rate, and while at the same time have fewer people getting tested.
Seventeen such sites have now been set up.
Associated Press reporter Philip Marcelo contributed to this report.