Emerson reports one new positive COVID-19 test


Domenic Conte

A sign on the window of Emerson’s coronavirus testing site at Tufts Medical Center.

By Frankie Rowley, Content Managing Editor

Emerson reported one new positive COVID-19 test on Wednesday out of the 1,238 tests administered Tuesday, leaving the college’s cumulative positive tests at 158. Emerson’s cumulative testing total sits at 95,920.

The college is seeing a decline in the number of positive test results being reported each week. Last week’s weekly total was the lowest reported number since spring semester testing began, with only 3 positive tests reported. Last week’s total also marked just the fourth time during the spring semester the number of positives reported in a single week fell below double digits—the third straight week. 

Since testing resumed on Jan. 11, the college has reported 99 positive tests—topping the 60 reported over the entire fall semester—and a positivity rate of .22 percent, a number that continues to drop. 

Wednesday’s dashboard update also reported two community members in isolation on campus and two in quarantine on campus. 

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 1,640 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, a rise from the 1,018 infections reported Monday. The death toll rose by 44.

Cases in the state have steadily declined over the past two months, reaching lows last seen in late October, following a spike after the winter holidays. 

The state reports two COVID-19 positivity rates—one with higher education testing and one without. On Tuesday, the seven-day test positivity rate with higher education removed sat at 3.4 percent, up from 3.0 percent this time last week and breaking the fluctuation of more than half a percent that has been observed over the last month. The rate that includes higher education sits at 1.9 percent. 

The state reported 620 total hospitalizations Wednesday, down from the 755 reported this time last week. Hospitalizations have declined substantially over the course of the past month after they spiked amid the state’s wintertime surge.

Massachusetts reported 61,449 vaccinations reported Wednesday, bringing the state’s total to 2,671,928. About 14 percent of the state’s population is fully inoculated against COVID-19—meaning they have received both doses of the vaccines manufactured by Moderna or Pfizer, or one dose of the newly approved Johnson & Johnson vaccine.    

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.