Massachusetts cases top 2,000 again, Emerson results delayed


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

Massachusetts reported 2,225 new coronavirus cases Tuesday, up from the 1,785 infections reported Monday. The number of deaths rose from 18 to 20. 

New infections have steadily risen in the state since mid-September. Monday was the first time cases dipped below 2,000 in a week, and single-day case totals continue to hit highs not seen since the virus’s peak in late April. 

Cumulative cases of COVID-19 reported in the state since March surpassed 200,000 Sunday, and now sit at 201,835.

The state recently changed the way it reports COVID-19 positivity rates, separating higher education testing into its own category. The state’s seven-day test positivity rate with higher education testing removed sits at 4.63 percent, compared to 4.95 percent a week ago.  

Hospitalizations from COVID-19 are currently surging. On Monday, the state reported 954 total hospitalizations, compared to 835 a week ago.

Emerson reported no new test results Tuesday—likely due to ongoing delays at the Broad Institute, which provides and processes testing for Emerson and other area universities. 

The college reported 16 new positive tests last week—one-third of the cumulative total thus far this semester. The surge in positives forced the college to impose a bevy of new restrictions on campus life, including the cancellation of all non-academic in-person activities (in-person classes will still be held until Wednesday, Nov. 25). The 4,080 tests administered last week is the highest number of tests in a single week since community members returned to campus in late August. The college’s weekly positivity rate sits at .39 percent, the highest number reported thus far this semester. 

The college 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. 

Emerson’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.