Health officials in Massachusetts confirmed another 1,683 cases of COVID-19 and 18 new deaths on Tuesday, hours after the head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention spoke of a possible fourth surge in coronavirus cases while touring a mass vaccination site in the Bay State.
The total number of confirmed coronavirus cases has risen to 595,925 and the death toll now stands at 16,808, according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. Another 340 deaths are considered probably linked to COVID-19.
The seven-day average positive test rate crept up again, from 2.37% in Monday's data to 2.55% in Tuesday's report. That figure had been below 2% as recently as March 16.
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The number of patients in Massachusetts hospitals with confirmed COVID-19 cases also climbed again, up from 675 on Monday to 711 on Tuesday. Of that number, 172 were listed as being in intensive care units and 95 were intubated, according to health officials.
Health officials' projection of active COVID-19 cases ticked down slightly, from 31,428 on Monday to 31,298 on Tuesday.
Many of the state's coronavirus metrics had been trending downward after a peak at the very start of the year, though leveled off in recent weeks, according to the Department of Public Health's interactive coronavirus dashboard.
CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, formerly an infectious disease expert at Massachusetts General Hospital, was in Massachusetts on Tuesday for a tour of the FEMA mass vaccination site at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston.
During the tour with Gov. Charlie Baker, Walensky implored residents and all Americans to wear masks and practice social distancing to prevent a possible new wave of the coronavirus pandemic.
She also doubled down on her remarks from Monday, saying she felt "impending doom" over a possible fourth surge in COVID-19 cases as health experts deem Massachusetts among the "areas of greatest concern."
"We are just asking you to hang on just a little bit longer," she said. "Wear your masks, continue to distance, and do the things that keep you safe so that we don't have to see sickness, or hospitalization with COVID-19 in anyone who was supposed to get their vaccine the following week."
Walensky said data shows that two doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, and a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, are effective against variants of the virus now circulating.
But she said the arrival of more variants increase the risk of new mutations forming that could reduce the overall effectiveness of the vaccines.
More on COVID in Mass.
This week, Massachusetts received 382,980 first and second doses as part of the state allocation, the Baker-Polito Administration said Tuesday afternoon.
These numbers include a one-time shipment of 29,800 Johnson & Johnson vaccines for providers. Another 10,000 Johnson & Johnson vaccines will be set aside to utilize for the homebound vaccination program that was announced last week, for a total of 40,000 Johnson & Johnson vaccines.
According to Tuesday's vaccine report, 1,302,605 Massachusetts residents are fully vaccinated against the virus. Grand total doses administered stands at 3,483,277, including 2,180,672 first dose shots given.
More than 85% of the total doses received have been reported as administered, according to the DPH daily report.