Almost exactly two years to the day that the coronavirus pandemic was declared an emergency in Massachusetts, the state's top public health officer painted a brightening picture of the pandemic Wednesday and said she is optimistic about the state's response.
"With vaccines and boosters and new COVID-19 therapeutic treatments, we are in a much better place than we were at this time last year," Commissioner of Public Health Margret Cooke told the Public Health Council.
"Residents have finally been able to gather more safely with family and friends. Students are in classrooms where they should be and more people are returning to their workplaces. And I'm confident that the commonwealth and department will continue to make progress on the COVID-19 front."
Cooke said the state's COVID-19 data points are encouraging "across the board."
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Since the Public Health Council's last meeting on Feb. 9, Cooke said, the seven-day average of new COVID-19 cases has decreased by 65% and COVID-19 hospitalizations have decreased by more than 70%. Roughly 77% of Massachusetts residents are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus.
In about two years, there have been 1,545,910 confirmed coronavirus infections in Massachusetts and at least 22,916 people have died of the disease here. Since the early days of the pandemic when COVID-19 tests were in short supply and extremely hard to secure, Massachusetts has now administered more than 41.3 million tests for the virus.
More on COVID-19
During Wednesday's meeting, the Public Health Council voted to amend its regulations dealing with the reporting of potential exposures that first responders like EMTs, paramedics and police officers have to infectious diseases dangerous to the public health.
In addition to setting up a multi-step framework for the reporting of potential exposures, the council also voted to add both COVID-19 and Hepatitis D to its list of "infectious diseases dangerous to the public health."