COVID-19 cases continue to rise through the holiday season

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Coronavirus Resources from the CDC

BOSTON, Mass. (SHNS/WWLP) – The state’s seven-day average positive test rate jumped from 7.58 percent as of Tuesday to 8.44 percent as of Wednesday, an increase of more than 11 percent on a day that the Department of Public Health reported 6,135 new cases of COVID-19 and more than 100 recent deaths.

DPH said the 6,135 new cases it reported Wednesday came from 86,050 tests. The agency also reported 118 recent COVID-19 deaths. With the additions Wednesday, the state’s cumulative case count climbed to 352,558 people and the death toll rose to 12,338 people who died with confirmed or likely cases of COVID-19. The state has processed more than 10.8 million COVID-19 tests this year.

Infectious Disease Specialist at Baystate Health, Dr. Daniel J. Skiest told 22News that it’s clear more people have become infected and it’s likely because of holiday celebrations and people being lenient on COVID-19 safety measures.

“Don’t tempt fate. I think it’s very exciting that we have a vaccine, and we see some light at the end of the tunnel. But that tunnel is long. So we need to decrease infections by socially distancing, isolating,” Dr. Skiest said.

Dr. Skiest also said that young adults and college students are often asymptomatic which could lead to more COVID-19 spread.

The state’s seven-day positive test rate had been relatively stable in the range of 5.9 percent to about 6.3 percent for most of December but began to climb sharply right around Christmas, according to data from DPH. One week ago, the state’s positive test rate was 5.92 percent. As recently as September, the seven-day average positive test rate was below 1 percent.

There were 2,257 with COVID-19 hospitalized as of 3 p.m. Tuesday, DPH said Wednesday. That represents a decrease of two patients from Monday. Of those hospitalized with COVID-19, 433 people are being treated in an intensive care unit, including 231 people who require the help of a ventilator to breathe.

DPH’s report Wednesday also revealed that the hospitalized population is getting older. As of last week, the average age of a person hospitalized with COVID-19 in Massachusetts was 69. This week, DPH said, it is 73. And the tests are taking longer to come back, too. Last week, the 14-day average turnaround time was 2.9 days, this week it is 3.1 days.

Statewide, about 3,256 of the 11,228 hospital beds that could be staffed within 24 hours remain available, representing about 29 percent available capacity. In ICUs, 353 of the 1,472 available ICU beds were available, representing about 24 percent available capacity.

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