Gov. Charlie Baker announced Tuesday that Massachusetts has finalized plans for its first mass vaccination site at Gillette Stadium, just days after the state was moved into the "severe outbreak" category by a national data tracker.
The home stadium of the New England Patriots and Revolution will open Thursday to provide the first doses of the vaccine for staff doing first responder vaccinations and it will be open to first responders starting on Monday.
Gillette plans to start with 300 vaccines a day, Baker said, but is expected to eventually build up to 5,000 doses a day.
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Baker spoke Tuesday from the Worcester Senior Center, which has been turned into a vaccination site for area first responders.
On Monday, thousands of police officers, firefighters and other first responders in the state began receiving their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine. About 60 sites have been set up around the state to vaccinate an estimated 45,000 people.
"I want to thank all of the first responders who have already received the vaccine. Obviously, getting the vaccine protects not only you but also your family and all the folks in the community you come into contact with," Baker said. "The challenge, we hope, will be keeping up with the demand."
So far, the governor said over 470,000 doses of the coronavirus vaccine have been distributed to providers and nearly 210,000 doses have been administered in Massachusetts.
"There is literally light at the end of the tunnel and it feels good to be at this phase," Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito said.
Baker said he expects to announce details about the next phase in the state's vaccination program — congregate care communities — later this week.
Fenway Park told NBC10 Boston Tuesday night it is working with the state to become a vaccination center, as well.
Massachusetts now has more than 90,000 active cases of COVID-19, the most since the Department of Public Health began estimating daily active caseloads in early November. Over the past three days, the state has reported more than 16,000 new cases of the virus and more than 200 deaths.
Covid Act Now, a national coronavirus data tracker, moved Massachusetts from "active or imminent outbreak" to its highest risk "severe outbreak" category over the weekend.
"Massachusetts is currently experiencing a severe outbreak," the website said. "Take all possible precautions to avoid exposure."
Covid Act Now said daily cases are now at 92.1 per 100,000, a "very dangerous number of new cases," and the infection rate of 1.11 shows that active cases are rapidly increasing.
"Over the last week, Massachusetts has averaged 6,351 new confirmed cases per day (92.1 for every 100,000 residents)," the site said. "If this trend continued for the next year, this would translate to approximately 2,300,000 cases and an estimated 6,900,000 infections (100% of the population)."
There have now been 12,929 confirmed deaths and 417,568 cases in the state, according to the Department of Public Health. Another 277 deaths are considered probably linked to COVID-19.
"These numbers are actually down over the past six or seven days," Baker said Tuesday.
The percentage of coronavirus tests coming back positive, on average, has slightly increased to 7.26%, the department said.
The number of patients hospitalized for COVID-19 has decreased to 2,211. Of that number, 451 were listed as being in intensive care units and 285 are intubated, according to DPH.