coronavirus

60 New Deaths, 4,162 More COVID Cases Announced in Mass.

There have now been 11,465 confirmed deaths and 311,090 cases, according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health

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Health officials in Massachusetts announced 60 new deaths Sunday and an additional 4,162 coronavirus cases.

The new deaths pushed the state's confirmed COVID-19 death toll to 11,465 and its confirmed caseload since the start of the pandemic to 311,090. Another 252 deaths are considered probably linked to COVID-19, according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

The percentage of coronavirus tests coming back positive, on average, ticked down below six percent to 5.78%, according to Sunday's report.

There are currently 1,919 people hospitalized across the commonwealth with confirmed COVID-19 cases, with 387 of those listed in intensive care units and 205 intubated.

Sunday's report came shortly after it was announced a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention panel had voted 13-1 to put "frontline essential workers" and people 75 years of age and older next in line to be eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

The CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices included frontline essential workers such as firefighters, police officers, teachers, corrections officers and others in the phase 1b group, but relegated "other essential workers" to phase 1c.

The so-called phase 1b group is estimated to include about 49 million people, or nearly 15% of Americans, according to the committee.

The full list of frontline essential workers also includes all educational staff, including daycare workers, food and agricultural workers, manufacturing workers, U.S. postal service employees, public transit workers and grocery store workers, according to ACIP's provided list.

These workers "are in sectors essential to the functioning of society and are at substantially higher risk of exposure" to COVID, the committee said.

The committee recommended Sunday that phase 1c should include persons between the ages of 65 and 74, people between the ages of 16 and 64 who have high-risk underlying conditions and remaining essential workers -- that's 129 million Americans, according to ACIP, or over one-third of the country.

Those remaining essential workers include transportation and logistics workers, food service workers, construction workers, finance workers, IT and communications workers, energy workers, media personnel, legal workers, engineers and wastewater workers, ACIP said. And underlying conditions for prioritization purposes includes obesity, cancer, smoking and more, per ACIP.

The federal government plans to roll out nearly six million doses of Moderna's coronavirus vaccine.

The committee's recommendations will now go to CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield, who typically accepts the committee's recommendations, setting federal guidance on how states should implement distribution of the scarce doses. But state officials are charged with the final say on distribution.

The CDC earlier this month recommended that states first prioritize health-care workers and long-term care facility residents during the initial rollout of the vaccines.

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