Emerson reaches 63 positive tests, breaking last semester’s total numbers


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 three new positive COVID-19 tests Thursday out of the 966 tests administered Wednesday. Since testing began on Aug. 6, the college’s cumulative positive tests sits at 123. Emerson’s cumulative testing total sits at 68,785.

The three new positive reported Wednesday brings the spring semester total to 63, officially marking more positives than were reported during the entire fall semester. In the fall, Emerson saw 60 total positive tests, with spikes occurring toward the end of the semester. 

The dashboard also reported six community members in on-campus isolation and 19 in on-campus quarantine. Yesterday, seven community members were in on campus isolation and 31 were quarantined. 

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.  

Massachusetts reported 2,213 new coronavirus cases Thursday, up from the 1,920 new infections reported on Wednesday. The death toll rose by 61. 

Thursday marks the first day this week that cases have topped 2,000. Monday’s report of 1,276 was the lowest number the state saw since Nov. 30, breaking the low set by the Jan. 2 report of 1,968 cases.

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 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 4.2 percent Thursday, down from the 5.2 percent reported this time last week. The rate that includes higher education sits at 2.6 percent, the lowest since Nov. 7. 

The state reported 1,313 total hospitalizations on Thursday, down from the 1,554 reported this time last week. Hospitalizations in the state have declined in recent weeks, falling by 476 since Jan. 28, 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.