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WORCESTER, Mass. (AP) — The number of confirmed COVID-19 deaths in Massachusetts has topped 18,000.

New daily cases of COVID-19 increased by more than 1,400 Tuesday while newly confirmed coronavirus deaths in Massachusetts rose by 24.

The new numbers pushed the state’s confirmed COVID-19 death toll to 18,015 since the start of the pandemic, while its confirmed caseload rose to more than 731,500.

There were more than 710 people reported hospitalized Tuesday because of confirmed cases of COVID-19, with more than 170 in intensive care units.

The average age of those who have died from COVID-19 was 74.

The true number of cases is likely higher because studies suggest some people can be infected and not feel sick.

More than 4.5 million people in Massachusetts have been fully immunized against COVID-19.


BREAKTHROUGH CASES

The number of fully vaccinated people who have tested positive for COVID-19 continues to rise in Massachusetts.

In the past week — from Sept. 4 to Sept. 11 — the number of breakthrough cases of the virus jumped by more than 3,900 — from 23,858 to 27,777.

The breakthrough cases still amount to about one-half of 1% of fully vaccinated individuals and health officials say the vaccine offers strong protection against getting infected and decreases the chances of hospitalization and death.

Of the recorded breakthrough infections in Massachusetts since the start of the pandemic, 823 resulted in hospitalization and 194 resulted in death, according to the state Department of Public Health.

COVID-19 cases in vaccinated people are counted as those who test positive more than 14 days after the final dose of vaccine.

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HOSPITAL WAIT TIMES

An influx of both COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 patients is leading to increased wait times at UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester, hospital officials said Tuesday.

UMass Memorial has seen a surge of COVID-19 patients, including several that are critically ill, according to a statement reported by The Telegram & Gazette.

In less than one week, the hospital saw an increase in coronavirus-positive patients, from 35 cases to 54. There are more than 70 COVID-19-positive patients across the system, which includes several other hospitals.

In response, UMass Memorial has moved to an elevated alert status.

The hospital attributed the rise in volume to the spread of the delta variant; the loss of nearly 100 hospital beds in the region related to the ongoing strike at St. Vincent Hospital; and a nationwide labor shortage that has left the medical center with more than 400 vacant positions.


MUSEUM FUNDRAISER POSTPONED

A Massachusetts science and nature museum announced Tuesday that it has postponed a major fundraiser in response to the latest surge in coronavirus cases.

The EcoTarium’s annual A Night at the Museum gala scheduled for Oct. 2 has been moved to May 7, the Worcester museum said in an online statement.

“The safety of our attendees, staff, and animals always comes first. It is with a heavy heart that we have to move the annual gala," interim President Michael Halperson said.

The annual fundraising event supports the Special Community Outreach Programs of the EcoTarium, a collection of programs designed to promote inclusivity and accessibility to the museum's educational resources.

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