BOSTON — With coronavirus cases rising, Gov. Charlie Baker is touting the state's ability to respond to a possible second wave of COVID-19 infections.
Baker said the state has has built a "massive infrastructure" to respond to the pandemic and is in a "strong position" should a second surge hit this fall or winter.
"There is no doubt that this virus will continue to challenge us," Baker told reporters Tuesday. "We've been working to get ahead of the obstacles that have been thrown our way since last spring, and as a result we are better positioned to respond and protect Massachusetts."
Baker said the state has taken steps to expand testing, contact tracing and social distancing measures to prevent the "silent spread" of COVID-19.
His comments come as health officials report an uptick in cases locally and nationally, prompting fears of a resurgence.
More than 30 states have reported more COVID-19 cases this past week than they reported the previous week, according to data compiled by scientists at Johns Hopkins University.
Massachusetts reported 630 newly confirmed cases and 12 newly confirmed coronavirus deaths on Tuesday, according to the state Department of Public Health. That follows 765 new cases and 13 new deaths on Monday.
The state has reported 137,500 COVID-19 cases and 9,410 deaths since the outbreak began in March. The percentage of coronavirus tests coming back positive, on average, is hovering around 1%, according to the health department.
The number of communities labeled high-risk for COVID-19 transmission jumped to 40 in the past week as infection rates in some communities north of Boston soared higher.
Last week, Middleton skyrocketed to the state’s highest rate — 58.1 infections per 100,000 residents, when adjusted for population — after reporting 84 positive COVID-19 cases from 1,189 tests in the past two weeks. Most of the cases were tied to an outbreak at the Middleton jail.
Baker is urging people to be vigilant as winter approaches and we "move from our backyards to our living rooms and family rooms."
"We all have a role to play here, and it does not end when we come home from work or the supermarket," he said. "If you have been out of state or around a bunch of people without masks or distancing, you need to socially distance or wear a mask around your family, and you should get tested."
Christian M. Wade covers the Massachusetts Statehouse for North of Boston Media Group’s newspapers and websites. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org