Gillette Vaccination Site

First responders, health care workers and law enforcement personnel line up inside Gillette Stadium in Foxboro last January to receive their first dose of the Moderna vaccine for the coronavirus.

Area coronavirus cases have racked up their largest increase in seven months, but fortunately the death rate has remained unchanged.

Meanwhile, the state announced Thursday it is offering vaccine booster shots to everyone 18 and older in the commonwealth.

An additional 314 virus cases were reported in the 10-community Sun Chronicle area for the week ending Nov. 18, according to the state Department of Public Health. That’s an increase of 100 — or 47 percent — over the 214-case increase last week.

The total case count has now topped the 20,000 mark — 20,110 to be exact — since the beginning of the pandemic in March of 2020.

Since the week ending Aug. 19, the number of new cases every week has been running between 180 and 272.

The last time the new case count hit 300 or more was in the week ending April 15, when an additional 369 cases were reported.

Cases have been going up statewide as well.

On Thursday the number hit 12,942 which is a six-day total for the week ending Nov. 19.

That’s the highest number since 12,944 cases were recorded in the week ending Sept. 17.

That number will be eclipsed on Friday.

While the number of cases has been increasing in recent weeks, the death toll fortunately has not been keeping pace.

Deaths in the Sun Chronicle area total 312 since the start of the pandemic.

It has not increased in three weeks, which has brought the death percentage down to 1.55 percent.

This week, of course, the percentage was zero.

At the state level, there have been 76 confirmed deaths out of the 12,942 cases recorded so far. That’s a 0.59 death percentage, which means six-tenths of 1 percent of coronavirus victims this week have died from the disease.

The worst week for deaths occurred in the week ending April 25, 2020 when 1,170 died from the disease statewide.

That week there were 16,976 cases and the death percentage was 6.89 percent.

The worst week this year for deaths occurred in the week ending Jan. 9 when 562 deaths were recorded along with 39,946 cases which equaled a death percentage of 1.41 percent.

As usual, most of the deaths are among the elderly or people with underlying conditions.

According to the state’s Department of Public Health the average age of those dying from the disease is 76.

That age has been creeping up in recent weeks.

In the week ending Oct. 14, five weeks ago, the average age of death was 72.

Vaccines have helped lower the death rate and serious illness and on Thursday the state announced that residents 18 and over are eligible to get a coronavirus booster six months after receiving the second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or two months after receiving a Johnson & Johnson single dose vaccine.

Massachusetts residents can access booster doses from more than 1,000 locations.

Vaccination sites can be found at vaxfinder.mass.gov or by calling the Vaccine Resource Line at 2-1-1.

The line is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Those with concerns should consult their physicians.

George W. Rhodes can be reached at 508-236-0432.

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