Emerson reports two additional COVID-19 cases, semester total at 598

Emersons+COVID-19+testing+center.

Photo: Hongyu Liu

Emerson’s COVID-19 testing center.

By Adri Pray, Assistant Express News Editor

On Monday, Emerson updated Friday’s COVID-19 data and reported two cases of the 205 tests administered. No data was readily available for Saturday or Sunday.

The college also reported four community members in on-campus isolation. Zero were 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.

As of Jan. 3, Emerson has reported 598 positive cases and administered 43,625 tests. The cumulative positivity rate sits at 1.37 percent.

Students are expected to continue to test weekly, per updated COVID-19 guidance put in place Feb. 7.

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The state’s upwards tick of COVID-19 cases continued on Monday as Massachusetts reported 1,693 positive cases for Friday, Saturday and Sunday, with a daily positivity rate of 1.68 percent. The death toll rose to 7.

The state updated the guidelines to qualify a COVID-related death Monday. The new definition decreases the death toll by 3,770 and includes 355 deaths and probable deaths not previously recorded. All newly reported deaths occurred prior to April 2021.

Hospitalizations went down as reported on Friday as the state reported 217, with 136 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 2.15 percent as of March 16. Including higher education, the rate sits at 1.68 percent as of March 20.

Massachusetts reported 13,003 new vaccinations—including boosters—from Friday to Monday, bringing the state’s total to 14,053,550 doses. Monday’s daily vaccination update reported that 5,313,641 Mass. residents—according to Mass. Department of Health data, approximately 77 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. 

Emerson dropped its indoor mask mandate on March 21 following an update to COVID-19 protocol. Students may optionally wear a mask indoors in any college facility except for classrooms, the Center for Health and Wellness, and Emerson’s Counseling and Psychological Services offices.

Additionally, in a community-wide email sent on Friday, “COVID Lead” Erik Muurisepp announced May 16 as the college’s anticipated date to adopt a mask optional policy in classrooms and other academic spaces.

Mayor Wu lifted the proof-of-vaccine requirement for all Boston residents citing the drop to previously established thresholds Feb. 18. Mayor Wu also dropped the masking requirement on Mar. 5 in close consultation with Commissioner of Public Health and Executive Director of the Boston Public Health Commission Dr. Bisola Ojikutu.

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 Muurisepp.

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