Emerson reports six positive COVID-19 tests

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Photo: Hongyu Liu

Emerson’s testing site at Tufts Medical Center.

By Adri Pray, News Editor

As of Tuesday, Emerson reported six positive COVID-19 cases of the 1,685 tests administered, setting the daily positivity rate at 0.36 percent.

Tuesday also reported that seven community members were in on-campus isolation. Zero were reported to be in on-campus quarantine. 

Those in the 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 424 positive cases and administered 21,493 tests. The cumulative positivity rate sits at 1.97 percent.

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

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The state’s downward tick of COVID-19 cases continues as Massachusetts reported 2,628 positive cases for Tuesday, with a daily positivity rate of 7.13 percent. The death toll rose by 127.

Hospitalizations went down as reported on Tuesday as the state reported 1,965 hospitalizations, with 979 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 13.21 percent as of Jan. 26. Including higher education, the rate sits at 7.13 percent as of Jan. 31.

Massachusetts reported 14,736 new vaccinations—including boosters—from Monday to Tuesday, bringing the state’s total to 13,620,340 doses. Tuesday’s daily vaccination update reported that 5,206,092 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 five. Children under five 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.

Though in 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. 

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.