Despite a growing number of Massachusetts residents getting vaccinated for the coronavirus, case of COVID-19 in the Bay State continue to rise, with some experts saying a fourth wave of the pandemic may already have arrived.
Officials including Gov. Charlie Baker and Boston Mayor Kim Janey are urging the public to stay vigilant, get vaccinated when eligible and continue to wear masks and practice social distancing in a bid to prevent another major surge.
These statistics show the latest rise in COVID-19 cases in Massachusetts.
55 towns in high risk 'red zone'
The number of Massachusetts communities at the highest risk of coronavirus transmission has nearly doubled after rising the last two weeks.
The town-by-town coronavirus data released Thursday showed 55 communities in the high-risk red zone, up from 32 last week and 20 the week before. That number had fallen from its peak in mid-January, 229 cities and towns in the red zone, until mid-March.
The town-by-town coronavirus risk data classifies communities' risk level on a scale from red, the highest, to grey, and is one of many metrics tracked by the state that have shown the latest COVID surge subsiding. (See this week's full list of red zone communities below.)
Massachusetts' coronavirus metrics trended down for the first few months of the year, though some have since leveled off. The drop in communities in the red zone appeared to be one sign this winter's surge was receding; experts have warned that more contagious coronavirus variants appearing in the state could drive a new surge.
See Thursday's town-by-town coronavirus data here.
To qualify for the red, high-risk category under the new metrics, communities with populations under 10,000 must have more than 25 cases. For mid-size communities of between 10,000 and 50,000 people, they must have an average of more than 10 cases per 100,000 people and a positive test rate of more than 5%. And for larger communities of greater than 50,000 people, they must have more than 10 cases per 100,000 people and a positive test rate of more than 4%.
Residents under age 40 make up more than 60% of new COVID cases
According to the Department of Public Health's interactive coronavirus dashboard, Bay State residents under the age of 40 make up 62% of COVID cases confirmed in the past two weeks. A year ago, it was about 27%.
In the last 14 days, the majority of cases -- 6,959 -- have been in those under the age of 19. The 20-29 age group is not far behind with 6,155 cases, followed by people ages 30-39 with 4,318 cases.
"We are seeing an increased number of tests from school population as the schools are reopening," said Dr. Cassandra Pierre, of Boston Medical Center. "Previously we weren't as aggressively testing that population so with more tests, we're going to see more positive numbers."
As cases rise in the young, they're falling in the elderly. Only 725 residents ages 70-79 and only 300 residents age 80+ tested positive for COVID during that same time frame.
3.6 million vaccine doses administered; 600,000+ cases reported
More than 3.6 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in Massachusetts, including more than 2.2 million first doses and more than 1.2 million second doses. And nearly 1.4 million people have been fully immunized. But as vaccination numbers climb in Massachusetts, so too are the number of COVID cases.
The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Massachusetts since the start of the pandemic topped 600,000 Thursday, as health officials reported more than 2,400 newly confirmed cases of the virus. There were an estimated nearly 33,000 people with current active coronavirus cases, according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.
1,045 new COVID cases reported at Mass. schools, setting record
Massachusetts schools this week reported 1,045 new COVID-19 cases among students and staff, marking the highest ever weekly tally of cases.
The state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education released the numbers Thursday in its weekly COVID-19 report. A total of 801 students and 244 employees with district building access within seven days of the report tested positive between March 25 and March 31.
The case report marks an increase of 135 total cases from the previous week. The last report said 682 students and 228 district staff tested positive, for a total of 910 cases.