For a second consecutive day, Massachusetts health officials have announced a record number of new COVID-19 cases.
The Department of Public Health on Thursday announced 6,477 new coronavirus cases, a single-day high since the start of the pandemic. The department noted that its announcement was delayed due to a single laboratory reporting 680 cases prior to Dec. 1.
Even without those 680 cases, however, there were far more than the 4,613 new cases confirmed Wednesday, which broke the previous record.
Massachusetts also reported 49 more coronavirus deaths.
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There have now been 10,637 confirmed deaths and 232,264 cases, according to the DPH. Another 237 deaths are considered probably linked to COVID-19.
The percentage of coronavirus tests coming back positive, on average, has increased to 5.29%, according to the report.
The number of patients hospitalized for COVID-19 has increased to 1,324. Of that number, 261 were listed as being in intensive care units and 137 are intubated, according to DPH.
Gov. Charlie Baker said Tuesday the first coronavirus vaccines could start arriving in Massachusetts as early as this month, but it will take time to achieve widespread distribution.
The first doses will likely be reserved for frontline health care workers, people over the age of 65 or with underlying health conditions, and other essential workers. The state is preparing to submit its final plan for vaccine acceptance and distribution to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control on Friday.
The vaccines are designed for adults over the age of 18, Baker noted at his Tuesday news conference.
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"The focus is going to be on the people we are all the most worried about, right, either because of what they do for work or because of their age or because of their physical condition," Baker said.
While touring the field hospital set to reopen at Worcester's DCU Center Thursday, Baker announced another field hospital would be established in Lowell.