The state's latest COVID-19 data released Tuesday hints at a slow decline of key metrics, though experts say the health care system is still under great stress.
There were 56,489 new COVID cases reported Tuesday, data that includes four days due to the holiday weekend. That brings the total reported case count over the pandemic to 1,375,183. There were 47 new deaths, bringing the death toll to 20,497.
On Tuesday, Massachusetts' seven-day average of positive tests was at 17.44%, down from the averages over 20% seen last week. Hospitalizations were also lower than what was last reported on Friday.
Massachusetts' COVID metrics, tracked on the Department of Public Health's interactive coronavirus dashboard, dashboard, had been spiking to heights not seen since previous surges, thought to be driven at least in part by the omicron variant. But, experts are now cautiously optimistic that we might be on a downturn. They warn, however, that we are still in for a difficult few weeks and that the health care system will continue to be strained.
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The number of patients in Massachusetts hospitals with confirmed COVID-19 cases was at 3,192, down slightly from the 3,223 reported Friday, which was the highest the state had seen since May 8, 2020. The state has changed how hospitals report COVID-related cases, and top Boston doctors say the new data has the numbers cut in half, but it has yet to be publicly released.
The number of hospitalizations reached nearly 4,000 early in the pandemic, but dipped under an average of 85 at one point this July.
Of those currently hospitalized, 1,558 are fully vaccinated, 466 are in intensive care units and 290 are intubated.
Normally on Tuesdays, Massachusetts reports the number of breakthrough cases in the prior week. A message on the state's website said this report had been "delayed, likely related to network connectivity issues experienced last week." The state said this data would be published when available.
More than 13.3 million vaccine doses have now been administered in Massachusetts.
That includes, from the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, more than 5.6 million first shots, over 4.8 million second shots and more than 2.4 million booster shots. There have been more than 337,000 doses of the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine administered.
Health officials on Tuesday reported that a total of 5,159,148 Massachusetts residents have been fully vaccinated.
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.)
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