KEY POINTS

  • The number of breakthrough deaths represents 0.02% of the state's vaccinated population
  • The Omicron variant currently accounts for 45% of all new cases in Massachusetts
  • People are urged to mask up in indoor public settings

More than 80 people in Massachusetts have died of COVID-19 over the past week despite being fully vaccinated as the state grapples with a surge in infections caused by the Omicron variant.

During the period between Dec. 11 and 18, health officials in Massachusetts reported an additional 85 breakthrough COVID-19 deaths. The figures now increase the state’s total number of breakthrough deaths to 784, which represents 0.02% of all fully vaccinated individuals. 

In the same seven-day period, health officials also reported 13,919 new breakthrough COVID-19 infections, marking the highest one-week total since Massachusetts began releasing breakthrough data in July. The previous record was set last week when health officials recorded 11,431 new COVID-19 cases among the vaccinated. 

The latest batch of new breakthrough infections now raises the state’s total number of COVID-19 cases among the fully vaccinated to 114,318. The figures represent 2.3% of all fully vaccinated individuals, according to data from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

At least 71.81% of the state’s population has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, with 78.11% having received at least one dose. Massachusetts has also administered a total of 1,853,014 booster doses as of Tuesday, a WCVB analysis of state data found.

The latest report comes as the state fights to contain the spread of the highly contagious Omicron variant, which currently accounts for at least 45% of the cases reported in Massachusetts. Scientists at the state’s Department of Public Health said the variant will likely cross the 50% mark Friday.

“If someone tells you today that the most recent data is that Omicron is 15 percent of all cases, it’s safe to say the real number is twice that,” Dr. Bruce Walker, director of the Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT and Harvard, told The Boston Globe.

To shore up the state’s defense against the variant, Gov. Charlie Baker, R-Mass., announced that he activated up to 500 members of the National Guard to assist hospitals with COVID-19 patients. He also approved a mask advisory urging all vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals to wear a mask in indoor public areas.

The experts warned in a report of a growing risk of 'critical infrastructure' including hospitals being overwhelmed The experts warned in a report of a growing risk of 'critical infrastructure' including hospitals being overwhelmed Photo: AFP / Ina FASSBENDER