Mass. Tops 650,000 Confirmed COVID Cases; 5 New Deaths Reported

More than 6.5 million doses of COVID vaccines have been administered in Massachusetts as of Thursday.

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Massachusetts public health officials have now confirmed more than 650,000 coronavirus cases as 1,004 more were reported Thursday, along with 5 new deaths.

The number of new cases Thursday ends a four-day streak in which that metric was below 1,000.

The update puts the total number of confirmed cases at 650,859 confirmed cases and the death total at 17,311 since the beginning of the pandemic, according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. Another 352 deaths are considered probably linked to COVID-19.

Many of Massachusetts' COVID metrics, including the average number of coronavirus cases, average coronavirus test positivity and average number of confirmed deaths reported each day, have been falling since the end of March, according to trends posted to the Department of Public Health's interactive coronavirus dashboard.

The seven-day average of positive tests on Wednesday dipped to 1.37%.

The number of patients in Massachusetts hospitals with confirmed COVID-19 cases dropped again on Thursday to 469. Wednesday marked the first time since October that the number of hospitalized patients fell below 500 statewide.

Thursday's report shows of those currently hospitalized, 137 are listed as being in intensive care units and 87 are intubated.

Health officials' projection of active COVID-19 cases decreased again, to 20,498 on Thursday from 21,300 on Wednesday.

More than 6.5 million doses of COVID vaccines have been administered in Massachusetts as of Thursday, including more than 3.7 million first doses and 2.5 million second doses of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines. More than 216,000 doses of the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine have been administered.

Over 2.7 million people have been fully immunized in the Bay State.

Walk-in appointments for a COVID vaccine will be offered at six mass vaccination sites in Massachusetts starting Monday.

The governor said during a press conference Thursday that the state continues to make progress in its fight against the coronavirus.

"There's a lot of very positive stuff going on here," Gov. Charlie Baker said.

Massachusetts is wrapping up a COVID-19 business relief program that provided more than $687 million in direct cash grants, many targeted to minority and women business owners, Baker said.

More than 15,100 businesses across the state received funds through the grant program. The final round of grants was announced on Thursday, with an additional 108 businesses receiving about $4.8 million in COVID relief funds. Baker said the money has provided a needed economic lifeline for many small businesses struggling to survive the limitations and shutdowns of the past year caused by the pandemic.

"These relief grants were designed to help the hardest hit businesses, specifically targeted to certain groups and sectors that were disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and in many cases couldn't access some of the federally available business support programs,'' Baker said while at Panela Restaurant in Lowell.

The family- and minority-owned business was among those awarded a grant through the program.

"Throughout the application and awarding process we kept the priorities top of mind, which was to support minority- and women-owned business as they were being hit harder than most,'' the Republican said.

Other businesses targeted by the program included those located in the state's "gateway cities,'' businesses that received no other aid, restaurants and bars, retail businesses, personal fitness and businesses providing personal services like hair and nail salons. Overall, 43% of the grants went to minority-owned businesses and 46% went to women-owned business, Baker said.

NBC10 Boston/The Associated Press
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