Emerson reports 18 positive COVID-19 tests on Tuesday

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Photo: Hongyu Liu

COVID testing site locating at 116 Harrison Avenue.

By Adri Pray, Assistant Express News Editor

On Tuesday, Emerson reported 18 COVID-19 tests for Monday of the 980 tests administered, setting the daily positivity rate at 1.84 percent.

The college also reported 32 community members in on-campus isolation. One was reported to be in on-campus quarantine. 

Those in quarantine may have been exposed to COVID-19 but aren’t experiencing symptoms. Those in isolation are symptomatic, have produced a positive test, or are “reasonably known to be infected,” according to the college. Off-campus students are not counted in the quarantine and isolation numbers.

As of Jan. 3, Emerson has reported 537 positive cases and administered 37,253 tests. The cumulative positivity rate sits at 1.44 percent.

Students are expected to continue to test weekly, per updated COVID-19 guidance put in place Feb. 7.

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The state’s downwards tick of COVID-19 cases continued on Tuesday as Massachusetts reported 1,209 positive cases for Monday, with a daily positivity rate of 1.88 percent. The death toll rose to 62.

Hospitalizations went down as reported on Tuesday as the state reported 394, with 213 of these hospitalizations occurring in those who are fully vaccinated.

The state of Massachusetts also tracks two kinds of COVID-19 positivity rates—one including higher education testing and one without. The seven-day positive rate without higher education sits at 2.99 percent as of Feb. 23. Including higher education, the rate sits at 1.88 percent as of Feb. 28.

Massachusetts reported 8,293 new vaccinations—including boosters—from Monday to Tuesday, bringing the state’s total to 13,946,700 doses. Tuesday’s daily vaccination update reported that 5,287,810 Mass. residents—according to Mass. Department of Health data, approximately 76 percent of the state’s population—are fully vaccinated, meaning that they have received both doses of the Moderna or Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. 

The Massachusetts Department of Health loosened the mask restriction last week after advising certain severely immunocompromised individuals to continue to mask in public spaces following the dip in Massachusetts’ COVID-19 cases.

Last week, Emerson announced a shift in COVID-19 policy, including the allocation of non-Emerson guests in residence halls starting Feb. 22 and will drop the non-classroom indoor mask mandate starting March 21. The decision came as Emerson saw a campus-wide decline in COVID-19 cases.

Also last week, Mayor Wu lifted the proof-of-vaccine requirement for all Boston residents citing the drop to previously established thresholds.

Tuesday, Wu and Commissioner of Public Health and Executive Director of the Boston Public Health Commission Dr. Bisola Ojikutu announced the indoor mask mandate will be terminated on March 5. The decision was voted for unanimously by Boston’s Board of Health.

The kindergarten through twelfth-grade public school bus mask mandate was lifted on Tuesday as well, as was confirmed by the state Department of Health.

Emerson shifted from a manual data reporting process to an automatic one on Oct. 13. The decision followed a Beacon investigation that revealed a string of inaccuracies in the data reported by the college. 

The college’s dashboard is updated daily Monday through Friday. When it was first launched in August, the college opted for weekly updates before eventually shifting to twice weekly and then daily updates. Tabs for hospitalizations and the number of “invalid” results received by community members have since been removed from the dashboard after testing began in August. Invalid results are typically a result of user error and require re-testing. 

Administrators said in August the decision to remove hospitalizations was part of an effort to increase transparency, as the college was concerned it could not accurately track the metric. Invalid results were deemed “not valuable” data by “COVID Lead” Erik Muurisepp.

The dashboard is not updated on weekends because Emerson’s testing site at Tufts Medical Center is closed on Saturdays and Sundays.