Mass. DPH Chief Sees ‘Very Good Trend' on COVID-19 Cases

Margret Cooke, acting commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, pointed to declining COVID-19 hospitalization and case numbers and increasing vaccination rates

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The state's acting public health commissioner said Wednesday she sees a "very good trend" in COVID-19 metrics in Massachusetts, which have lately featured declining hospitalization and case numbers.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases recorded in Massachusetts since February 2020 stood at 772,932, or nearly 100,000 more than the population of Boston.

After dropping to double-digit levels in June, the seven-day average of newly reported cases of COVID-19 began climbing in July, as the Delta variant contributed to spread of the virus, and hit a late-summer peak of 1,895.6 on Sept. 13.

Three weeks later, on Oct. 4, the seven-day average case count was down to 1,304.7 and as of Oct. 11, it stood at 970.9.

Updating the Public Health Council on Wednesday, acting commissioner Margret Cooke said COVID-19 hospitalizations have also been dropping, from 707 on Sept. 13. As of Tuesday, that number was 541.

"This is a very good trend, and given our last few weeks of data, our decreasing case counts and with our ever-increasing vaccination rates, we expect this trend to continue," Cooke said.

A total of 4,667,841 people in Massachusetts are fully vaccinated, according to the latest DPH data. Cooke said Centers for Disease Control and Prevention figures show more than 90% of all Massachusetts adults have received at least one dose, and more than 99.9% of the 65-plus population has at least one dose.

Public health officials on Tuesday also reported 4,034 new cases of COVID-19 among fully vaccinated individuals, bringing the cumulative count of breakthrough infections to 44,498 or 0.95% of the state's fully vaccinated population.

There have been 1,428 hospitalizations among fully vaccinated people -- 0.03% of the total number of people fully vaccinated -- and 345 deaths, or 0.007% of fully vaccinated individuals, according to the DPH.

"I want to emphasize that breakthrough cases in Massachusetts are incredibly low, less than 1% of those who are fully vaccinated," Cooke said. "Those who are hospitalized or who have died after being fully vaccinated are even lower. All available data continue to support that all three vaccines used in the United States are highly protective against severe disease and death from all known variants of COVID-19."

So far, of the three vaccines, only the Pfizer vaccine has been authorized by the federal government for booster shots in eligible populations.

Cooke said the state's rapid response team has provided 3,488 booster doses to long-term care residents as of Oct. 8.

A state vaccine equity program focuses on 20 communities, and Cooke said efforts in those cities and towns to bolster vaccination access and address vaccine hesitancy have been working.

She said the statewide first-dose average vaccination rate increased by 5.1 percentage points over the last two months, and 18 of those 20 communities experienced larger gains.

Cooke also offered a particular shoutout to Chelsea, one of the cities targeted by the equity program.

"At one time, you may remember, Chelsea had the highest rate of COVID cases in our commonwealth, and today over 99% of eligible residents in Chelsea have received at least one dose of the vaccine," she said.

Copyright State House News Service
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