Emerson reaches five positive coronavirus tests before spring semester begins


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 one positive out of 154 new COVID-19 tests administered on Jan. 14. The college has now reported five positive tests out of the 688 tests administered during the Spring 2021 testing period. 

The last month of Emerson’s fall semester testing brought 28 new positive tests, compared to 32 over the course of the first three months of testing. 

The dashboard was updated at 12:10 pm. 

Massachusetts reported 5,074 new coronavirus cases Thursday, down significantly from the 5,545 new infections reported Thursday. The death toll rose by 75. 

Friday marks the third time this week that cases have risen above 5,000. Last week, Massachusetts saw record-breaking highs, with cases surpassing 6,000 three days in a row and topping 7,000 for the first time of the pandemic. 

On Jan. 8, the state surpassed 400,000 cumulative COVID-19 cases, less than a month since topping 300,000 on Dec. 18. Massachusetts did not surpass 200,000 total cases until Nov. 22.

The soaring case numbers come almost a month following the Christmas holiday that officials warned could drive another surge in infections. The incubation period for the virus is believed to be between two and 14 days from exposure, so holiday travel and gatherings are likely now driving up case numbers. Thanksgiving led to the state reporting more than 4,000 new cases five days in a row.  

The state is also seeing an uptick in the number of deaths caused by COVID-19. Wednesday’s death total of 75 sits above the seven-day average of 66, a number that has been steadily dropping over the past week. 

The state reports two COVID-19 positivity rates—one with higher education testing and one without. The seven-day test positivity rate higher education removed sat at 7.7 percent Friday, down from the 8.7 percent reported this time last week. The rate that includes higher education sits at 6.4 percent, the lowest it’s been since Dec. 23. 

The state reported 2,201 total hospitalizations Friday, down slightly from 2,311 reported this time last week. Hospitalizations in the state have remained relatively stagnant in recent weeks, increasing by a total of 45 since Dec. 26, after rising by nearly 300 week over week during  much of November and early December.

Students remaining on Emerson’s campus through winter break are tested on Tuesdays each week. Administrators told The Beacon fewer than 30 students remain on campus through the break, in addition to the resident assistants who have begun to move in. 

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.