Emerson reports two new positives, Massachusetts cases soar past 2,000


Photo: 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

Emerson reported two new positive test results Tuesday out of just 107 new tests administered Monday, bringing the college’s cumulative positive test total to 54. Emerson’s cumulative testing total sits at 49,826. 

The two positives reported Tuesday bring the total of positive tests among community members to 22 since Nov. 22, by far the highest total over a ten-day period from the semester. Those positives make up 40 percent of the total positives reported this semester. The college’s cumulative test positivity rate rose above .1 percent—to .11 percent—for the first time since regular testing of community members began in late August. 

Massachusetts reported 2,845 new coronavirus cases Tuesday, a dramatic rise from the 1,166 new infections reported Monday. The state’s death total rose by 30.

New infections in the state have steadily risen since mid-September. Now in the midst of a second wave, city and state officials are warning against Thanksgiving travel and gatherings, which experts say could accelerate the spread of the virus.

Daily case numbers have averaged well over 2,000 since early November, but have dipped below 2,000 in data reported on Mondays for the past several weeks. 

The state recently changed the way it reports COVID-19 positivity rates, separating higher education testing into its own category. The seven-day test positivity rate with higher education testing removed sits at 4.61 percent.

Hospitalizations from COVID-19 are currently surging. On Tuesday, the state reported 1,191 total hospitalizations, compared to 613 a month ago.

Students remaining on campus through winter break will be tested on Tuesdays each week. Administrators told The Beacon fewer than 30 students remain on campus through the break. 

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 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 “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.