Massachusetts on Wednesday reported another 1,653 confirmed coronavirus cases, a number that includes three days due to the weekend, and 46 new deaths.
This puts the state's COVID-19 cases at 1,525,644 since the start of the pandemic and its death toll to 22,324.
Massachusetts' COVID metrics, tracked on the Department of Public Health's interactive coronavirus dashboard, show cases down significantly from peaking numbers at the beginning of last month, prompting some towns and cities to relax safety restrictions. In keeping with the trends, DPH has loosened recommendations for the use of face masks in indoor spaces for those who are fully vaccinated, and Gov. Charlie Baker announced the statewide school mask mandate would end on Feb. 28.
The 7-day average test positivity came in at 2.9% on Wednesday, compared to 3.09% reported Tuesday.
There were 832 hospitalizations reported Wednesday, with 161 patients in intensive care and 76 patients intubated. As recently as Jan. 14 there were 3,300 patients in hospitals. The worst period in the pandemic for hospitalizations continues to be April 2020, when nearly 4,000 people with COVID were in Massachusetts hospitals.
The state has started releasing a new breakdown of virus hospitalizations, data that indicates whether COVID-19 is the primary cause of hospitalization, or incidental. This data shows that from Jan. 13 to Feb. 7, roughly 50% of COVID-19 patients were primary cases. On Feb. 15, 45% of patients were primary COVID cases.
Experts have said that case count reporting may have become a less accurate indicator during the omicron surge, given the difficulties in getting tested and widespread use of rapid tests that often go unreported. Officials also warn that hospitalizations, which may be a better metric to measure by, often lag behind case counts, which means even if COVID-19 cases are dropping, health care systems could still be stressed by patient influx and staffing shortages. Still, the state has seen a slow decline in hospitalizations for several weeks.
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More than 13.8 million vaccine doses have now been administered in Massachusetts. That includes more than 5.7 million first doses of either Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, 4.9 million second shots, and over 340,000 Johnson & Johnson one-dose shots. Over 2.7 million booster shots have been administered.
Health officials on Wednesday reported that a total of 5,259,939 Massachusetts residents have been fully vaccinated.