Emerson reaches 60 positive tests, total number of positive tests reported last semester


Photo: Diti Kohli

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

By Frankie Rowley, Content Managing Editor

Emerson reported two new positive COVID-19 tests on Wednesday out of the 1,238 tests administered on Tuesday. The college’s cumulative positive tests since testing began on Aug. 6 sits at 60. Emerson’s cumulative testing total sits at 67,819.

The two new positive tests reported Wednesday brings the spring semester total to 60, meaning that within four weeks of testing, the spring semester has reached the total number of positives reported throughout the fall. In the fall, 60 positives were reported over three months of weekly testing. 

The dashboard also reported that seven community members are in on-campus isolation and 31 are in on-campus quarantine. Yesterday eight community members were in on campus isolation, however 31 people still remain in 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 and faculty are excluded from participating in on campus quarantine and isolation.

Massachusetts reported 1,920 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, up from the 1,319 new infections reported on Tuesday. The death toll rose by 82, the highest reported this week. 

Wednesday marks the third day that cases have dipped below 2,000. Monday’s report of 1,276 is the lowest number the state has seen since Jan. 2. On Jan. 2, cases reached 1,968, the lowest reported number since Nov. 30

Infections have declined steadily across the state in the past month, after Christmas holiday travel and gatherings likely drove up case numbers, resulting in record highs approximately two weeks after the holiday. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced two new cases of the B.1.1.7  variant of COVID-19 had been found in Massachusetts, also on Wednesday. Massachusetts has now reported nine cases of the variant first found in the United Kingdom, which is believed to be up to 50 percent more transmissible than the strains of the virus currently spreading. 

The only other New England state to report cases of the B.1.1.7 variant is Connecticut, which has reported a total of 17 confirmed cases.

The state reports two COVID-19 positivity rates—one with higher education testing and one without. The seven-day test positivity rate with higher education removed sits at 4.5 percent Wednesday, down from the 5.1 percent reported this time last week. The rate that includes higher education sits at 2.8 percent, the lowest since Nov. 8. 

The state reported 1,358 total hospitalizations on Wednesday, down from the 1,635 reported this time last week. Hospitalizations in the state have declined in recent weeks, falling by 520 since Jan. 27, after rising by nearly 300 week over week during much of November and early December.

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.