Excitement is growing today with the opening up of COVID vaccine shots for MA residents 16 and older, as many see this as another step closer to the end of the pandemic. However, we are still quite a distance away from being out of the woods, as the new data from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health shows.

According to the COVID-19 Interactive Data Dashboard on their website, Mass. DPH and state public health officials report 7 newly confirmed deaths and 1,265 new confirmed COVID-19 cases in Massachusetts.

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First and foremost, the report from the Department of Public Health, which is updated every Thursday, lists 11 communities in the "red zone", including 2 in Berkshire County: Adams and Williamstown. Lest we forget, "red zone" means an area experienced more than 100 new cases per 100,000 people during the last week.

The age group between 20 and 29 years old now holds the highest number of COVID-19 cases, 5,942. The second-highest number of cases falls into the age group between 30 and 39 years old, 4,419. And third-highest is 40 to 49 years old with 3,227.

Also, there are 701 patients currently hospitalized with COVID-19 with 162 patients that are in intensive care units and 103 patients intubated. The average age of patients currently hospitalized is 59-years-old.

There are currently 85.5% of surgical/medical beds that are occupied and 73% of ICU beds that are occupied, as of April 18. In western Massachusetts, there are 900 surgical beds out of 1,176 that are occupied. And in ICU, 88 beds out of 153 are occupied.

In Berkshire County, thankfully no new COVID-related deaths, but there are 17 new confirmed cases of COVID-19, bringing the total of cases to 6,065.

You can check out the Interactive Data Dashboard for more information, including COVID data from other counties, by clicking here.

LOOK: Answers to 30 common COVID-19 vaccine questions

While much is still unknown about the coronavirus and the future, what is known is that the currently available vaccines have gone through all three trial phases and are safe and effective. It will be necessary for as many Americans as possible to be vaccinated in order to finally return to some level of pre-pandemic normalcy, and hopefully these 30 answers provided here will help readers get vaccinated as soon they are able.