Active Coronavirus Cases, Hospitalizations Continue to Decline in Mass.

There have now been 488,861 confirmed cases and 14,056 deaths since the start of the pandemic

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Massachusetts reported 4,222 new coronavirus cases and 43 more deaths on Thursday as the number of active cases and hospitalizations in the state continue to decline.

There have now been 488,861 confirmed cases and 14,056 deaths, according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. Another 292 deaths are considered probably linked to COVID-19.

The percentage of coronavirus tests coming back positive, on average, decreased to 4.44% from 4.67% the previous day, the department said Thursday.

The number of patients hospitalized for COVID-19 has decreased slightly to 1,878. Of that number, 442 were listed as being in intensive care units and 255 are intubated, according to health officials.

The number of estimated active cases dropped to 78,171 on Thursday from 80,909 on Wednesday.

Generally, Massachusetts' coronavirus metrics have been trending down, according to the Department of Public Health's interactive coronavirus dashboard, with the average number of cases, hospitalizations and deaths peaking in the second week of January. The testing rate peaked Jan. 1.

The figures reported daily are important for tracking trends with the virus' spread, though a single-day change may not reflect a larger trend, and may reflect incomplete data.

As vaccine demands continue to outstrip supply countrywide, the United States is expecting to see over half a million COVID-19 deaths within the next three weeks. Just over one million people are getting vaccinated a day, according to the CDC.

Earlier Thursday, Gov. Charlie Baker continued to urge patience in the face of a chaotic vaccine rollout, saying that more appointments are being added to a state-run website and adults 75 and older should continue to check for open slots.

The administration said 10,000 appointments were posted in Springfield and Danvers on Wednesday and were filled within hours. On Thursday, Springfield and Danvers made another 15,000 appointments available, and Gillette Stadium and Fenway Park posted a total of 20,000 appointments. CVS Health will post 1,152 new appointments daily across eight sites, for a total of 8,000 per week, the administration said.

Baker said locations that can administer vaccine doses are adding appointments to an online portal as they become available. The state's mass vaccination sites, including those already running at Gillette, Fenway and others soon to come online, will also start posting times every Thursday for the week ahead.

"If you don't see an opening at a site that's interesting to you or a place you'd like to go, you should just go back," Baker said. "Go back to that site each day. Eventually, an opportunity will become available, and you can take it."

Lawmakers and others have continued to pressure Baker to improve access to the vaccine for older adults, arguing that the single website is too confusing and inaccessible for those without technological literacy or who face a digital divide. Other older residents face difficulties in traveling outside their homes.

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