Massachusetts on Thursday reported another 8,616 confirmed coronavirus cases and 84 new deaths, as the state continues to see a decline in hospitalizations and its positivity rate.
This puts the state's COVID-19 cases at 1,466,315 since the start of the pandemic and its death toll to 21,271. On Wednesday, there were under 8,000 cases reported. Still, the case numbers are significantly down from the peaking numbers at the beginning of the month. State health officials reported a single-day record on Jan. 5, topping 27,000 cases, followed by the second-highest single-day total on Jan. 7, with more than 26,000 cases.
Massachusetts' COVID metrics, tracked on the Department of Public Health's interactive coronavirus dashboard, have been trending downward after spiking to heights not seen since previous surges, a peak thought to be driven at least in part by the omicron variant.
The 7-day average test positivity came in at 9.48% Thursday, down from the 10.37% reported on Tuesday.
There were 2,521 hospitalizations reported Wednesday, with 396 patients in intensive care and 237 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 new information shows that while there were more than 3,000 patients in hospitals with COVID-19 last Thursday, just under 50% of those cases were for other causes.
Experts have said that case count reporting may be a less accurate indicator during the omicron surge, given the difficulties in getting tested and widespread use of rapid tests that 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.
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More than 13.5 million vaccine doses have now been administered in Massachusetts. That includes more than 5.7 million first doses of either Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, 4.8 million second shots, and over 339,000 Johnson & Johnson one-dose shots. Over 2.6 million booster shots have been administered.
Health officials on Thursday reported that a total of 5,192,287 Massachusetts residents have been fully vaccinated.