More than a million cases of the coronavirus have now been confirmed in Massachusetts, according to state Department of Public Health data released Tuesday, with the omicron variant behind the latest increase in the number.
With 9,228 cases announced on Tuesday, the total number of cases since the start of the pandemic in March 2020 stands at 1,002,266, the agency said. There were also 63 new deaths, bringing the total to 19,692.
Similar spikes in cases are seen across New England, although the region has some of the highest vaccination rates in the country. Hospitals are filling up. The mask orders are coming back. More restaurants are closing due to coronavirus cases, and a growing number of universities are requiring students to receive booster shots.
Here’s a look at what Massachusetts officials are doing to tackle the wave:
Address hospital capacity
The number of patients in Massachusetts hospitals with confirmed cases of COVID-19 rose to 1,707 on Tuesday, the highest number since January 29. The figure was once close to 4,000, but rose to an average of 85 at some point in July.
Massachusetts’ latest wave prompted the state to order hospitals to postpone or cancel non-essential elective procedures. The ban went into effect on Monday. The state has also mobilized hundreds of National Guard personnel to help understaffed and stressed hospitals and ambulance services with non-clinical tasks, including transportation and security.
The majority of new cases confirmed in the past two weeks are in people between the ages of 20 and 39, the state said.
Opening of new vaccination sites
Fenway Park will be used as a mass vaccination site again starting early next month, state officials said on Tuesday.
The Boston Red Sox home is expected to begin administering vaccines Jan.6, including booster shots, and will have the capacity to dispense 1,300 shots per day, according to a statement from the Executive Office of Health and Human Services of the state.
A mass vaccination site opened in Fenway in February, but closed in late March because the Red Sox needed the park for baseball season.
The state also announced four additional mass vaccination sites, the office said.
Vaccines are already being distributed at the Whittier Street Health Center in the Roxbury neighborhood of Boston.
Mass vaccination clinics are scheduled to open on January 5 at the Melnea Cass Recreation Complex in Roxbury and North Shore Community College in Lynn, and 2005 Bay Street in Taunton on January 6.
Appointments at all five sites can be booked now, but they also accept walk-in tours. Linguistic translation services will be available at all sites. Residents aged 5 and older can receive their primary series of COVID-19 vaccines, and residents aged 16 and older can receive booster shots.
These sites are in addition to nearly 1,000 locations statewide where residents can receive COVID-19 vaccines or boosters.
Issuing a new mask guide
The Department of Public Health issued an updated mask advisory last week, recommending that all people, regardless of their immunization status, wear a mask or face covering in indoor public spaces.
DPH especially encourages this recommendation for people with weakened immune systems, or who are at increased risk of serious illness due to age or an underlying medical problem, or if a member of their household has an immune system. weakened immune system, has an increased risk of serious disease, or is not vaccinated.
All people in Massachusetts (regardless of their immunization status) are required to continue to wear face coverings in certain settings, including transportation and healthcare facilities. Please see here for a full list of places where face coverings have remained mandatory since May 29, 2021.
The current mask requirement and the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Immunization Rate Threshold Policy published on September 27, 2021 are not affected by this advisory.