coronavirus

More Than 6,500 New Breakthrough Cases in Mass., 43 More Deaths in Vaccinated People

Also Tuesday, another 2,915 confirmed coronavirus cases and 31 new deaths were reported, with Massachusetts' seven-day average of positive tests jumping to 4.46%

NBC10 Boston

Massachusetts health officials on Tuesday reported more than 6,500 new breakthrough cases over the past week, and 34 more deaths.

In the last week, 6,610 new breakthrough cases -- infections in people who have been vaccinated -- were reported, with 158 more vaccinated people hospitalized, Massachusetts Department of Public Health officials said Tuesday. It's a 9% increase in the rate of new breakthrough cases in Massachusetts -- last week saw 6,917 new COVID infections in vaccinated people.

The new report brings the total number of breakthrough cases to 77,647, and the death toll among people with breakthrough infections to 586.

Both figures remain a tiny percentage of the total number of all people who have been vaccinated -- by contrast, more than 4.8 million Bay State residents have been fully vaccinated.

The equivalent of just 0.05% of vaccinated people have been hospitalized and 1.6% have had confirmed infections. An even smaller percentage has died: 0.01%. The report also doesn't indicate how many of the breakthrough cases are in people with underlying conditions, though it also notes that "may be undercounted due to discrepancies" in records.

While vaccinated people are getting COVID-19, the virus' effects are severely blunted in them, and breakthrough cases rarely lead to hospitalizations or deaths. That's why public health officials worldwide continue to stress the importance of vaccination and booster shots. (If you still need to be vaccinated, here's a tool to find the closest vaccination provider to your home.)

Three top Boston doctors explain what the new omicron variant is, whether it's already in the U.S., what the symptoms are and if vaccines protect against it on the weekly “COVID Q&A” series.

Also Tuesday, another 2,915 confirmed coronavirus cases and 31 new deaths were reported, pushing the state's number of confirmed COVID-19 cases to 855,442 since the start of the pandemic and its death toll to 18,991.

Massachusetts' COVID metrics, tracked on the Department of Public Health's interactive coronavirus dashboard, dashboard, had been far lower than they were in spring, but have been rising lately. The discovery of omicron, a new COVID strain labeled a variant of concern by the World Health Organization over the Thanksgiving weekend, is being monitored in case it accelerates the recent surge statewide and across the U.S. -- though no cases have been identified in the U.S. so far.

Massachusetts' seven-day average of positive tests jumped from 3.72% on Monday to 4.46% on Tuesday, reaching a level last seen on Jan. 26, state data shows. The metric was once above 30%, but had dropped under 0.5% until the delta variant began surging in the state.

The number of patients in Massachusetts hospitals with confirmed COVID-19 cases increased to 906, the most since Feb. 20, according to state data; the figure was once nearly 4,000, but reached under an average of 85 at one point in July.

Of those currently hospitalized, 317 are fully vaccinated, 190 are in intensive care units and 100 are intubated.

Politicians and medical experts in Massachusetts are urging people to get the COVID-19 vaccine booster shot as the new omicron variant creates uncertainty across the state, the nation and around the globe.

Nearly 11.4 million vaccine doses have now been administered in Massachusetts.

That includes, from the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, nearly 5.4 million first shots, over 4.5 million second shots and more than 1.1 million booster shots. There have been more than 328,000 doses of the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine administered.

Health officials on Tuesday reported that a total of 4,861,312 Massachusetts residents have been fully vaccinated.