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Massachusetts Has Now Reported More Than 5,000 Breakthrough COVID Infections, 80 Deaths

BOSTON (CBS) -- More than 5,000 breakthrough COVID infections have been reported in Massachusetts, according to the latest Department of Public Health data. But the rate of fully vaccinated people ending up in the hospital remains low.

A total of 5,166 breakthrough cases have been reported through July 17, resulting in 80 deaths. A week ago, there were 4,450 cases and 79 deaths reported among fully vaccinated people.

Only 0.1% of the more than 4.3 million fully vaccinated population has tested positive, and an overwhelming majority of those have not had to be hospitalized.

There have been 329 total hospitalizations for patients with breakthrough cases.

"I wish we could say that COVID has gone away, but it hasn't," said Worcester's UMass Memorial Dr. Richard Ellison.

Massachusetts has seen an uptick in COVID cases, and it's believed that the highly contagious Delta variant is responsible for the majority of them.

"It's more likely to get a breakthrough infection if you've been exposed to Delta," Dr. Ellison said.

Dr. Paul Sax, the clinical director of the infectious disease clinic at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, told WBZ-TV that cases have been milder in fully vaccinated people, which demonstrates that the vaccines are working.

"We are seeing an increase in cases. Fortunately, we're much better off as far as vaccine uptake goes, which means a lot of the cases we're seeing here in Massachusetts are very mild because cases are much milder among people who get COVID after the vaccine," he said.

Dr. Ellison said the more people who get vaccinated, the better because beating COVID is a numbers game.

"If you are not vaccinated, please get vaccinated. That's the best thing you can do, and it's the most important thing you can do," Dr. Ellison said.

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