BOSTON (AP) — The number of new daily cases of COVID-19 continues to top 2,000 as Massachusetts struggles to tamp down the disease despite increasing numbers of vaccines administered.

There were more than 2,100 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Friday, while the number of newly confirmed coronavirus deaths in Massachusetts rose by 32.

The new numbers push the state’s confirmed COVID-19 death toll to 16,908 since the start of the pandemic, while its confirmed caseload rose to nearly 603,000.

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

There were about 700 people reported hospitalized Friday because of confirmed cases of COVID-19, with about 160 in intensive care units.

The average age of those hospitalized was 64. There were an estimated 33,000 people with current active cases of COVID-19 in the state.

The number of probable or confirmed COVID-19 deaths reported in long-term care facilities rose to 8,981.

More than 3.7 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in Massachusetts, including more than 2.3 million first doses and more than 1.3 million second doses.

More than 1.4 million people have been fully immunized.

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EXPANDED VACCINE ELIGIBILITY

Beginning Monday, residents 55 and older and residents with one certain medical condition will become eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine at any of the state's 300-plus vaccination locations, including nearly 270 pharmacies.

With this group, more than 1 million additional residents will be eligible for vaccine shots in Massachusetts, according to the Baker administration.

Depending on supply from the federal government, it could take weeks for people to be notified that an appointment is available at a mass vaccination site.

Eligible medical conditions include: cancer; chronic kidney disease; chronic lung diseases including COPD, asthma (moderate-to-severe), interstitial lung disease, cystic fibrosis, and pulmonary hypertension; dementia or other neurological conditions; and diabetes (type 1 or type 2).

Other eligible conditions include: Down syndrome; heart conditions like heart failure, coronary artery disease, cardiomyopathies or hypertension; HIV infection; an immunocompromised state; liver disease; obesity; pregnancy; sickle cell disease or thalassemia; smoking; solid organ or blood stem cell transplant; stroke or cerebrovascular disease; or substance use disorders.

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ALL-REMOTE COLLEGE

A Massachusetts college is sending students home for the semester early and moving to all-remote learning in response to a surge of COVID-19 cases on campus.

The Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts announced Thursday that it would move classes online starting Monday and close dorms for the semester April 11, The Berkshire Eagle reported.

The state school in North Adams has identified 28 positive cases through campus testing since March 22, school President James Birge said.

He blamed the rise in cases on social activity in residence halls, particularly the Flagg Townhouse Apartment Complex.

“Through our testing and tracing protocol, we discovered that the spread is limited to the townhouses and some social gathering activity there,” he said. “And it had spread a little to other residence areas. But, through our tracing protocol, we discovered no spread in labs, offices and classrooms.”

The school in March identified a cluster among residents of the Flagg complex and limited students who live there to their residences.

Students found to have held social gatherings in violation of the college’s COVID-19 rules will be held accountable, he said.

College leadership considered a two-week shift to remote learning but decided against it because classes end in about a month anyway.

For copyright information, check with the distributor of this item, The Berkshire (Mass.) Eagle.

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