Emerson reports no new testing data, Massachusetts cases top 2,000 again


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

Massachusetts reported 2,288 new coronavirus cases Friday, down from the 2,532 infections reported Thursday. The number of deaths rose from 27 to 34. 

New infections have steadily risen in the state since mid September. Monday was the first time cases dipped below 2,000 in a week and single day case totals continue to hit highs not seen since the virus’ peak in late April. 

The state recently changed the way it reports COVID-19 positivity rates, separating higher education testing into its own category. The state’s seven day test positivity rate with higher education testing removed sits at 5.25 percent, compared to 5.2 percent a week ago. 

Hospitalizations from COVID-19 are currently surging. On Friday, the state reported 904 total hospitalizations, compared to 517 this time last month.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker urged colleges to provide students travelling home for Thanksgiving with a COVID-19 test no more than 72 hours before their departure. Should a student test positive, their university should provide housing, the governor said.  

Emerson reported no new COVID-19 testing data Friday due to a delay at the Broad Institute—the center that provides and processes the college’s tests.

Emerson reported 12 new positive test results Wednesday, more than double the highest total of positive tests the college has reported in a single week to date. Ten of the positives came from tests administered Tuesday—four from on campus students, four from off campus students, one from a faculty member, and one from a vendor.

The surge in positives forced the college to impose a bevy of new restrictions on campus life—including the cancellation of all non-academic in person activities (in-person classes will still be held until Wednesday, Nov. 25).

The college 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. 

Emerson’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 have said 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.