Massachusetts health officials reported 1,322 new confirmed coronavirus cases and 55 more deaths on Wednesday.
There have now been totals of 533,024 confirmed cases and 15,312 deaths in the Bay State, according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. Another 311 deaths are considered probably linked to COVID-19.
Tuesday was the first time Massachusetts reported fewer than 1,000 new positive cases in a day since early November. However, that may have been because the report came after a holiday weekend -- the number of tests conducted was down in Tuesday's report and the positivity rate increased from the day before.
Generally, Massachusetts' coronavirus metrics have been trending down in the past several weeks, according to the Department of Public Health's interactive coronavirus dashboard, with the average number of cases, hospitalizations and deaths peaking in the second week of January. The testing rate peaked Jan. 1. The figures reported daily are important for tracking trends with the virus' spread, though a single-day change may not reflect a larger trend, and may reflect incomplete data.
The number of estimated active cases fell under 40,000 on Wednesday, declining to 39,916 from 42,395 on Tuesday.
The percentage of coronavirus tests coming back positive, on average, held effectively steady at 2.20%, after being at 2.22%.
The number of patients hospitalized for COVID-19 ticked down to 1,088. Of that number, 273 were listed as being in intensive care units and 179 were intubated, according to health officials.
Also on Wednesday, Gov. Charlie Baker announced that Massachusetts residents age 65 or older or with two or more specific medical conditions, including asthma, will be eligible to book appointments for the COVID-19 vaccine beginning Thursday.
Residents and staff of public and private low-income and affordable senior housing will also be eligible to receive the vaccine, meaning 1 million more people in all will be eligible to be vaccinated.