Massachusetts health officials on Friday reported more than 86,000 new breakthrough COVID cases over the previous week period, a number larger than the previous period but lacking the huge surge seen previously, and 170 more deaths in people with breakthrough cases.
This week's data, which normally posts on Tuesdays, was delayed due to network connectivity issues last week that affected multiple state agencies. The data reflects the week of Jan. 9 through Jan. 15.
In the last week, 86,450 new breakthrough cases -- infections in people who have been vaccinated -- were reported, with 885 more vaccinated people hospitalized, Massachusetts Department of Public Health officials said Friday. This is an increase in breakthrough case rate reported from the last report, but only by around 5% -- the previous week saw 82,466 new COVID infections in vaccinated people, which was an 83% increase in the rate of new breakthrough cases from the week before.
The new report brings the total number of breakthrough cases to 348,510, and the death toll among people with breakthrough infections to 1,224.
Both figures remain a tiny percentage of the total number of all people who have been vaccinated.
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The equivalent of just 0.11% of vaccinated people have been hospitalized with COVID and 6.8% have had confirmed infections. An even smaller percentage has died: 0.02%. The report also doesn't indicate how many of the breakthrough cases are in people with underlying conditions, though it also notes that "may be undercounted due to discrepancies" in records.
While vaccinated people are getting COVID-19, the virus' effects are severely blunted in them, and breakthrough cases rarely lead to hospitalizations or deaths. Last month, Massachusetts Department of Public Health officials released a study that found that 97% of breakthrough cases in the state did not become severely ill and rarely led to deaths, especially among young people.
That's why public health officials worldwide continue to stress the importance of vaccination and booster shots. (If you still need to be vaccinated, here's a tool to find the closest vaccination provider to your home.)
On Friday, the state reported another 13,935 confirmed coronavirus cases and 102 new deaths, pushing the state's number of confirmed COVID-19 cases to 1,418,149 since the start of the pandemic and its death toll to 20,884. The case numbers are significantly down from the peaking numbers earlier this month. State health officials reported a single-day record on Jan. 5, topping 27,000 cases, followed by the second-highest single-day total on Jan. 7, with more than 26,000 cases.
Massachusetts' COVID metrics, tracked on the Department of Public Health's interactive coronavirus dashboard, have been trending downward after spiking to heights not seen since previous surges, a peak thought to be driven at least in part by the omicron variant.
Massachusetts' seven-day average of positive tests was at 13.70% Friday, which continues to trend down from the most recent high of just over 23% on Jan. 5. The highest recorded seven-day average test positivity in Massachusetts stands at over 31% on March 8, 2020.
Experts have said that case count reporting may be a less accurate indicator during the omicron surge, given the difficulties in getting tested and widespread use of rapid tests that go unreported. Officials also warn that health care systems are still under great pressure from the influx of COVID-19 patients and related staffing shortages.
On Friday, the state reported 3,105 people hospitalized with COVID-19, 446 in intensive care and 269 intubated.
The state just released a new breakdown of virus hospitalizations on Thursday, data that indicates whether COVID-19 is the primary cause of hospitalization, or incidental. This new information shows that while there are more than 3,000 patients in hospitals with COVID-19, just under 50% of those cases were for other causes as of Thursday.
More than 13.3 million vaccine doses have now been administered in Massachusetts.
Health officials on Thursday reported that a total of 5,163,898 Massachusetts residents have been fully vaccinated.