Massachusetts now has more COVID-19 patients hospitalized than at any point since May 2020, surpassing the tally of patients during last winter's surge as the omicron variant continues to spread rapidly.
The Department of Public Health's latest daily report published Thursday listed 2,524 COVID-19 patients in Bay State hospitals. That marks a single-day increase of 98 and a nearly 40% jump over the tally from just one week ago.
As public health experts and health care leaders continue to warn of dire strain exacerbated by staffing shortages, the current torrent of infections has led to more COVID patients in hospitals than on any single day in 2021. The state has also not set up field hospitals as it did during 2020.
The hospitalization numbers are the highest since the 2,518 reported on May 19, 2020, which was only two months into the state of emergency and well before vaccines that limit the severity and spread of the illness became available.
The data do not indicate whether all of those patients were hospitalized because of their COVID-19 infections or if they were already receiving medical care for another reason when they tested positive during routine screening for the virus. Hospitals will differentiate between those categories in their COVID-19 reports starting next week.
DPH on Thursday also reported 24,570 newly confirmed infections, below the one-day record of 27,612 reported Wednesday. The seven-day average positive test rate now stands at 22.43%, while another 43 confirmed deaths and three probable deaths pushed the cumulative toll to 20,510.
Slightly more than 5.1 million Massachusetts residents have received both primary doses of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine or the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine, DPH said Thursday, while 2,223,943 people have received the additional booster doses that experts say are key to protecting against the omicron variant.