Emerson’s COVID-19 dashboard continues decline, Thursday sees two positives

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Photo: Hongyu Liu

COVID testing site locating at 116 Harrison Avenue.

By Adri Pray, News Editor

Emerson reported two positive tests on Thursday out of the 1,122 administered Wednesday. The positivity rate sat at 0.18 percent.

The college also reported one community member 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 433 positive cases and administered 23,799 tests. The cumulative positivity rate sits at 1.82 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 4,829 positive cases for Thursday, with a daily positivity rate of 5.89 percent. The death toll rose to 59.

Hospitalizations went down as reported on Thursday as the state reported 1,661, with 812 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 10.37 percent as of Feb. 2. Including higher education, the rate sits at 5.89 percent as of Feb. 2.

Massachusetts reported 16,135 new vaccinations—including boosters—from Wednesday to Thursday, bringing the state’s total to 13,652,410 doses. Thursday’s daily vaccination update reported that 5,214,358 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 having 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.