White House coronavirus task force worried about Boston, Massachusetts

White House coronavirus task force worried about Boston, Massachusetts

The White House Coronavirus Task Force remains focused on the outbreak in Boston and Massachusetts — with a key member of the president’s team saying all eyes are on this region.

“Our hearts go out to all these cities and the hospital workers on those front lines,” Dr. Deborah Birx said after announcing at Monday’s press briefing that Boston, Massachusetts and Chicago remain high-alert zones.

She then said the goal is to create a “web of understanding of what (testing) capacities can be.” But, she added states looking to begin opening up — in Phase 1 of a multi-step blueprint on returning to life — must show improvement with COVID-19 cases and deaths dropping.

She added the task force, headed by Vice President Mike Pence, remains “very much focused” on Massachusetts where the virus continues to dig in.

State health officials reported 103 new deaths in Massachusetts Monday, down from 146 deaths the day before. The total number of deaths top 1,800.

The state now has 39,643 confirmed cases of the highly contagious disease, an increase of 1,566 cases since Sunday. New York City was once seen as the hot spot — a worrisome designation that has migrated north to Boston.

Middlesex County has the most confirmed cases in Massachusetts with 9,253 cases, followed by Suffolk County with 8,314 cases.

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, and death.

“You were there for us and we are going to be there for you,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Sunday when he announced he has 400 ventilators ready to send to Massachusetts.

As the Herald reported late last week, the densely packed city of Chelsea has the highest rate of COVID-19 infection in the state, 1,890 per 100,000 residents, with 712 cases as of April 14, according to a public health ranking.

Brockton, which has 1,202 cases, has the second highest rate, 1,222 per 100,000 residents. Randolph, with just 367 cases, has the third-highest, 1,073 per 100,000 residents.

“The worst is yet to come for a lot of people,” Boston Mayor Martin Walsh warned Monday. “Even when we’re beyond the curve, we’re going to have positive cases of coronavirus, we’re still going to have loss of life.”

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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