Friday’s 0.50 percent daily COVID-19 positivity rate marks fourth consecutive day below 1 percent


Hongyu Liu

A sign of the COVID testing site of Emerson College and Tufts University.

By Adri Pray, Editor-at-large

Emerson reported 5 positive COVID-19 cases on Friday of the 1,006 tests administered, setting the daily positivity rate at 0.50 percent, the fourth consecutive day below one percent.

The college also reported that 12 community members were 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 412 positive cases and administered 19,080 tests. The cumulative positivity rate sits at 2.16 percent.

Students are still expected to test twice a week for the foreseeable future, but due to the coming Nor’easter, the college adapted guidelines to accommodate the safety of students, faculty and staff. Previously announced to be open on Saturday, Jan. 29 in order to comply with updated testing protocols, Tufts Medical Center will now be closed.

The state’s downward tick of COVID-19 cases continues as Massachusetts reported 7,181 positive cases on Friday with a daily positivity rate of 8.92 percent. The death toll rose by 65.

Hospitalizations went down as reported on Friday as the state reported 2,377 hospitalizations, with 1,191 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 13.38 percent as of Jan. 26. Including higher education, the rate sits at 8.92 percent as of Jan. 27.

Massachusetts reported 22,928 new vaccinations—including boosters—from Wednesday to Thursday, bringing the state’s total to 13,568,755 doses. Friday’s daily vaccination update reported that 5,196,592 Mass. residents—approximately 75 percent of the state’s population—are fully vaccinated, according to Mass. Department of Health data. Full vaccination status means receiving both doses of the Moderna or Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. 

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.