Emerson reports five COVID-19 cases on Tuesday

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Photo: Hongyu Liu

COVID testing site locating at 116 Harrison Avenue.

By Adri Pray, News Editor

On Tuesday, Emerson reported five COVID-19 cases for Monday of the 830 administered, setting the daily positivity rate at 0.60 percent.

The college also reported two community members in on-campus isolation. Zero were reported to be in on-campus 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 are not counted in the quarantine and isolation numbers.

As of Jan. 3, Emerson has reported 626 positive cases and administered 48,104 tests. The cumulative positivity rate sits at 1.30 percent.

Students are expected to continue to test weekly, per updated COVID-19 guidance put in place Feb. 7.

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The state’s downwards tick of COVID-19 cases continued on Tuesday as Massachusetts reported 882 positive cases for Monday, with a seven-day positivity rate of 2.20 percent. The death toll rose by 16.

The state updated the guidelines to qualify a COVID-related death last week. The new definition decreases the death toll by 3,770 and includes 355 deaths and probable deaths not previously recorded. All newly reported deaths occurred prior to April 2021.

Hospitalizations went down as reported on Tuesday as the state reported 215, with 131 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 2.64 percent as of March 23. Including higher education, the rate sits at 2.20 percent as of March 28.

Massachusetts reported 3,493 new vaccinations—including boosters—from Monday to Tuesday, bringing the state’s total to 14,088,010 doses. Tuesday’s daily vaccination update reported that 5,320,736 Mass. residents—according to Mass. Department of Health data, approximately 77 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. 

Emerson dropped its indoor mask mandate on March 21 following an update to COVID-19 protocol. Students may optionally wear a mask indoors in any college facility except for classrooms, the Center for Health and Wellness, and Emerson’s Counseling and Psychological Services offices.

Additionally, in a community-wide email sent last week, “COVID Lead” Erik Muurisepp announced May 16 as the college’s anticipated date to adopt a mask optional policy in classrooms and other academic spaces.

Mayor Wu lifted the proof-of-vaccine requirement for all Boston residents citing the drop to previously established thresholds Feb. 18. Mayor Wu also dropped the masking requirement on Mar. 5 in close consultation with Commissioner of Public Health and Executive Director of the Boston Public Health Commission Dr. Bisola Ojikutu.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized a second dose of the Moderna or Pfizer COVID-19 booster shot for people age 50 and older and for some immunocompromised people to better protect against the coronavirus. Those eligible for the dose may receive it at least four months after their first booster.

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 Muurisepp.

The dashboard is not updated on weekends because Emerson’s testing site at Tufts Medical Center is closed on Saturdays and Sundays.