Emerson finished January with a 0.60 weekly percent positivity rate, lowest seen since fall 2021 semester


Hongyu Liu

The exterior of the COVID testing site.

By Adri Pray, Editor-at-large

On Monday, Emerson reported five positive COVID-19 cases of the 689 administered over Friday and Sunday, no information was readily available for Saturday.

From Jan. 24 to Jan. 30, 5,638 tests were administered with 34 of those coming up positive, setting the weekly COVID-19 percent positivity rate for last week at 0.60 percent. This is the first week of the spring 2022 semester that has reported a weekly positivity rate below one percent. 

Monday also reported that five community members were in on-campus isolation. Zero were reported to be in on-campus quarantine. 

Those in the 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 418 positive cases and administered 19,808 tests. The cumulative positivity rate sits at 2.11 percent.

Students are still expected to test twice a week for the foreseeable future.

The state’s upward tick of COVID-19 cases continues as Massachusetts reported 12,127 positive cases on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday with a daily positivity rate of 7.43 percent. The death toll rose to 83.

Hospitalizations went down as reported on Monday as the state reported 2,202 hospitalizations, with 1,098 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 13.22 percent as of Jan. 26. Including higher education, the rate sits at 7.43 percent as of Jan. 30.

Massachusetts reported 36,849 new vaccinations—including boosters—from Friday to Monday, bringing the state’s total to 13,605,604 doses. Monday’s daily vaccination update reported that 5,202,797 Mass. residents—according to Mass. Department of Health data, approximately 75 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. 

In a communication released to Emerson community members last week, the college reported to have obtained a “limited supply” of KN95 masks made by a CDC-approved manufacturer on Jan. 18 for student use. These masks can be picked up from the information office located at 172 Tremont, or the Campus Life Office, Walker 411.

Though in an email sent by Emerson College’s Chapter of the American Association of University Professors just three days after the college’s announcement reported the masks as “counterfeit,” as the union was unable to confirm the efficacy of the KN95 masks.

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.