In Thursday's release of COVID-19 data, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health is now including a promised breakdown of hospitalizations that indicates whether the patient needs care due to the virus or some other cause.
Cases are now broken down by whether COVID-19 is the primary cause of hospitalization, or incidental.
Thursday's data reported 3,192 hospitalizations, of which 1,666 were primary cases and 1,526 were incidental. This means close to half of COVID-19 patients in Massachusetts hospitals are being treated for other causes, and tested positive for the virus during their visit.
The number of hospitalizations reached nearly 4,000 early in the pandemic, but dipped under an average of 85 at one point this July.
There were 14,384 new COVID cases reported Thursday, good news as metrics that were once spiking from the omicron variant seem to be stabilizing.
That brings the total reported case count over the pandemic to 1,404,214. Thursday's case numbers are significantly down from the peaking numbers earlier this 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 seem to be trending downward after a spike thought to be driven at least in part by the omicron variant. Experts warn that despite this positive outlook, the health care system is still greatly strained.
It's also worth noting that officials have warned 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.
In less positive news, there were 86 new deaths reported Thursday, bringing the death toll to 20,782.
Also on Thursday, Massachusetts' seven-day average of positive tests was at 15.03%, which continues to trend down from the most recent high of just over 23% on Jan. 5. The highest recorded seven-day average test positivity in Massachusetts stands at over 31% on March 8, 2020.
Information on vaccine breakthrough cases, usually provided on Tuesdays by 4 p.m., still has yet to be released, due to what a message on the state's website described as "network connectivity issues" that affected multiple agencies last week.
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