New target for monthly vaccinations as frustration grows

Coronavirus Local Impact

Sergeant Jurne Smith-Traylor of the Illinois Air National Guard administers a Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine to Arthur Barsotti at a vaccination center at Triton College in River Grove, Illinois, on February 3, 2021. The site is the second large-scale vaccination center in Cook County, which includes the city of Chicago. More than 4,000 vaccines are expected to be given at that location on a weekly basis. (Photo by KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI / AFP)

BOSTON (SHNS) – As frustration continues with the speed and logistics of the state’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout, Gov. Charlie Baker on Wednesday said he, too, was “not happy with where we are” and expressed a goal of vaccinating a million people per month by the spring.

So far, Baker said from the mass vaccination site at Fenway Park, the state has received just over 1 million doses of vaccine and administered 654,104 of those doses since December.

Stepping up the pace of vaccination could end up looking similarly to how the state’s COVID-19 testing capacity expanded over time. As of Wednesday, according to the Department of Public Health, 13,874,158 molecular tests for the coronavirus have been administered in Massachusetts. More than 2.78 million of those tests were conducted in the past month — the Jan. 3 tally was just north of 11 million.

The DPH reported 2,186 new, confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 53 recent deaths linked to the respiratory disease on Wednesday. Since last March, a total of 14,708 people in Massachusetts with confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 have lost their lives.

The average positive test rate now stands at 3.3 percent, down from 3.44 percent in Tuesday’s report amid a continued decline.

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said that cases and hospitalizations nationally are on a “consistent downward trajectory” and have returned to pre-Thanksgiving levels but again offered a note of caution around new variants of COVID-19. In-person social gatherings and a lack of mask-wearing has contributed to spread of those new variants, she said.

More than a year after the first COVID-19 case was detected in Massachusetts and in a sign that the pandemic’s impacts will linger even once vaccines become more widespread, Senate President Karen Spilka and House Speaker Ronald Mariano announced Wednesday that the Legislature would form a new standing committee on COVID-19 and emergency response, which they said will also have the ability to conduct oversight hearings.

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