Emerson reports four new positives, Massachusetts cases continue decline

Emerson%27s+testing+site+is+located+at+a+Tufts+Medical+Center+facility+on+the+corner+of+Harrison+Ave.+and+Kneeland+St.

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 Charlie McKenna, Editor-in-Chief

Emerson reported four new positive COVID-19 test results Wednesday out of 727 new tests administered on Tuesday, bringing the college’s cumulative positive tests to 144. Emerson’s cumulative testing total sits at 78,308. 

Since testing resumed on Jan. 11, the college has reported 84 positive tests—topping the 60 reported over the entire fall semester—and a positivity rate of .31 percent. The college has now reported six new positives this week, likely marking the sixth straight week double-digit positives will be reported. 

The dashboard reported two community members in isolation on campus and 11 in quarantine on campus. Yesterday, three community members were in isolation and 11 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 1,788 new coronavirus cases Wednesday, a decline from the 1,114 new infections reported Tuesday. The death toll rose by 60. 

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Wednesday marks the twelfth day in a row cases have fallen below 2,000 in the state. Cases topped 2,000 each day from Nov. 30 to Feb. 2. 

On Feb. 19, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health announced the second confirmed case of the B.1.315 COVID-19 variant first discovered in South Africa, and 15 more cases of the B.1.1.7 variant first discovered in the United Kingdom, bringing the state’s total to 44. 

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 sat at 3.1 percent Wednesday, down from the 3.6 percent reported this time last week. The rate that includes higher education sits at 1.9 percent. 

The state reported 875 total hospitalizations on Wednesday, down from the 1,088 reported this time last week. Wednesday’s total marks just the fourth time hospitalizations dipped under 1,000 since Nov. 26—the fourth straight day. 

Massachusetts reported 32,428 vaccinations administered on Wednesday, bringing the state’s total to 1,476,276. 

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.