Coronavirus in Massachusetts: 5,576 new Covid cases, 16 deaths as metrics rise

Coronavirus cases statewide continued a rapid rise with on Thursday with 5,576 people reporting falling sick with the disease as percent positivity and hospitalizations also continue to hike.

State health officials in their daily report said the seven-day COVID-19 positive test rate is now 8.24%.

That’s well up from the post-omicron low of 1.6% from just a couple of months ago; authorities have said rates over 5% suggest testing isn’t providing a complete picture of what’s out there.

The new 5,576 people falling ill match the average in late January, when the massive omicron-variant-driven surge was waning. It — and the positive test rate — is still multiple orders of magnitude less than the omicron peak in early January. The average then dropped as low as around 600 a day in mid-March.

State health officials reported 728 people in hospitals with coronavirus, though just 230 of them are actually in because of the virus, with the rest there for an unrelated reason and then testing positive.

Still, these hospitalization marks continue a rise from March and early April, when that 230 mark represented the total number in hospitals with the disease.

Sixteen people were reported Thursday to have died from the virus, bringing the total Bay State toll from the pandemic to 19,243. The daily death rate, now at an average of 7.1, has nudged up slightly from the months-long plateau below five.

Covid wastewater trackers — which has been a good early indicator of the ebbs and flows of the pandemic in the Boston area — have shown levels yet again after they appeared to have risen and leveled off.

In Boston, community positivity — all tests minus the college ones — is at 10.7%, long ago punching past the city’s 5% threshold for concern. The adult hospitalization metric too is approaching its threshold, though ICU capacity, the third mark that the city used as it assessed removing restrictions, essentially hasn’t shown an uptick amid all this.