Mass. Tops 600,000 Confirmed COVID Cases; 32 New Deaths Reported

Health officials' projection of active COVID-19 cases jumped up again, from 31,911 on Wednesday to 32,868 on Thursday.

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Massachusetts public health officials have now confirmed more than 600,000 coronavirus cases as 2,455 more were reported Thursday, along with 32 new deaths.

The update puts the total of confirmed cases at 600,632 and the death toll at 16,876, according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. Another 341 deaths are considered probably linked to COVID-19.

The seven-day average positive ticked down slightly again, from 2.53% in Wednesday's report to 2.49% in Thursday's data. That figure had been below 2% as recently as March 16.

The number of patients in Massachusetts hospitals with confirmed COVID-19 cases jumped back up to 700. Of that number, 166 were listed as being in intensive care units and 86 were intubated, according to health officials.

Health officials' projection of active COVID-19 cases jumped up again, from 31,911 on Wednesday to 32,868 on Thursday.

Many of the state's coronavirus metrics had been trending downward after a peak at the very start of the year, before leveling off and then rising in recent weeks, according to the Department of Public Health's interactive coronavirus dashboard.

According to Thursday's vaccine report, 1,370,079 Massachusetts residents are fully vaccinated against the virus. More than 3.6 million total doses have been administered in the state, including 2,268,511 first dose shots of either Pfizer of Morderna.

More than 90,000 Bay State residents have received Johnson & Johnson's single-shot vaccine. Gov. Charlie Baker said Wednesday that he was expecting more than 100,000 doses of Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine to arrive in Massachusetts next week.

Later Wednesday, the pharmaceutical company announced their "quality control" process identified one batch of their vaccine that did not meet their standards, and it had to be discarded.

The pharmaceutical company did not say how large the single batch was, but the New York Times reported 15 million doses have been ruined. That's enough shots to vaccinate all of New York, Los Angeles, Boston and Philadelphia combined.

It's a massive blow for the company, and many are wondering if it could affect residents in Massachusetts waiting for a vaccine appointment.

Massachusetts has yet to receive word of any delay in an anticipated shipment of the Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine since the company's announcement, according to Baker's office.

Johnson & Johnson said Wednesday that a batch of its key vaccine ingredient didn't meet quality control standards at a Baltimore facility.

Massachusetts should still receive 100,000 doses of the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine after reported manufacturing issues, but the outlook in following weeks is still under review, Baker administration officials said Thursday.

Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders told reporters the shipment promised for next week is "not in jeopardy" despite J&J announcing late Wednesday that one batch "did not meet quality standards."

"We know we're getting this 100,000, but then J&J for us going forward in the next few weeks is under review right now," Sudders said after touring a vaccination site at La Colaborativa in Chelsea with Gov. Charlie Baker and local officials. "We don't know if that's part of what's been the manufacturing issue."

With coronavirus cases rising in Massachusetts, epidemiologist Dr. Shira Doron, of Tufts Medical Center, says we really need some relief in the form of being able to ramp up vaccination.

Johnson & Johnson announced they had to throw away 15 million doses of their COVID-19 vaccine after a mistake at a Baltimore production facility operated by Emergent BioSolutions.
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