Emerson reports seven positive COVID-19 tests


Hongyu Liu

COVID testing site locating at 116 Harrison Avenue.

By Adri Pray, Editor-at-large

Emerson reported seven positive COVID-19 cases Wednesday of the 1,163 tests administered Tuesday, setting the daily positivity rate at 0.60 percent.

Four community members were reported to be in on-campus isolation Wednesday, with none 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.

 Emerson has reported 431 positive cases and administered 22,656 tests as of Jan. 3. The cumulative positivity rate since the commencement of the semester sits at 1.90 percent.

Students are still expected to test twice a week for the foreseeable future.

The state’s COVID-19 cases rose, with Massachusetts reporting 4,973 positive cases on Wednesday—a daily positivity rate of 6.73 percent. The state reported 87 deaths.

Hospitalizations on Wednesday also decreased, as the state reported 1,799. 889 of these hospitalizations occuring 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 13.21 percent as of Jan. 26. Including higher education, the rate sits at 6.37 percent as of Feb. 1.

Massachusetts reported 15,935 new vaccinations, including boosters, from Tuesday to Wednesday, bringing the state’s total to 13,636,275 doses. Wednesday’s daily vaccination update reported that 5,210,215 Mass. residents—according to Mass. Department of Health data, approximately 75 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. 

The FDA officially approved the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine for individuals age 18 or over Monday. The Moderna vaccine is the second FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccination following the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine approved on Aug. 23.

On Tuesday, Pfizer asked the FDA to authorize “extra-low” doses of their vaccination for children under 5. Children under 5 are the only group not yet eligible for any COVID-19 vaccination.

In a communication released to Emerson community members last week, the college reported to have obtained a “limited supply” of KN95 masks made by a CDC-approved manufacturer on Jan. 18 for student use. These masks can be picked up from the information office located at 172 Tremont, or the Campus Life Office, Walker 411.

An email sent by Emerson College’s Chapter of the American Association of University Professors just three days after the college’s announcement reported the masks as “counterfeit,” as the union was unable to confirm the efficacy of the KN95 masks.

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. 

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