Emerson cases surge as Baker urges caution ahead of Thanksgiving


Diti Kohli

Emerson’s testing site is located at a Tufts Medical Center facility on the corner of Harrison Ave. and Kneeland St.

By Charlie McKenna

Massachusetts reported new coronavirus cases 2,744 Wednesday, up from the 2,263 infections reported Tuesday. The number of deaths rose from 20 to 47. 

New infections have steadily risen in the state since mid-September. Monday was the first time cases dipped below 2,000 in a week. 

Single day-case totals continue to hit highs not seen since the virus’s peak in late April. 

The state recently changed the way it reports COVID-19 positivity rates, separating higher education testing into its own category. The state’s seven day test positivity rate with higher education testing removed sits at 5.37 percent, up from 4.42 percent a week ago. 

Hospitalizations from COVID-19 are currently surging. On Wednesday, the state reported 885 total hospitalizations, compared to 324 this time last month.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker urged students traveling home for Thanksgiving to acquire a negative COVID-19 test result in the 72 hours before their departure. Should a student test positive their university should provide housing, the governor said Wednesday.

Emerson reported 12 new positive COVID-19 test results Wednesday out of 1,935 new tests administered on Nov. 16 and 17, leaving the college’s cumulative positive tests since Aug. 6 at 44. Emerson’s cumulative testing total sits at 45,631.

The new data was reported at 1:38 p.m.

The 12 positive test results received are more than double the highest number of positive tests in a week the college reported to date. An email from Assistant Vice President for Campus Life Erik Muurisepp announced 10 of the positives came overnight—four from on campus students, four from off campus students, one faculty member and a vendor.

The surge in positives forced the college to impose a bevy of new restrictions on campus life—including the cancellation of all non-academic in person activities. 

The college 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. 

Emerson’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.