Massachusetts reports 1,319 new coronavirus cases


State House News Service

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker.

By Frankie Rowley, Content Managing Editor

Emerson reported three new positive COVID-19 tests on Tuesday out of the 1,188 tests administered on Monday and three tests administered on Sunday. The college’s cumulative positive tests since testing began on Aug. 6 sits at 58. Emerson’s cumulative testing total sits at 66,581.

The dashboard also reported that eight community members are in on campus isolation and 31 are 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 and faculty are excluded from participating in on campus quarantine and isolation.

The three new positive reported Tuesday brings the spring semester total to 58, after just four full weeks of testing. In the fall, the college reported 60 positives across the four months testing was administered. 

Massachusetts reported 1,319 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, up from the 1,276 new infections reported on Monday. The death toll rose by 68.  

Tuesday marks the second day that cases have dipped below 2,000. Monday’s report of 1,276 is the lowest number the state has seen since Jan. 2. On Jan. 2, cases reached 1,968, the lowest reported number since Nov. 30

Infections have declined steadily in the state in the past month, after Christmas holiday travel and gatherings likely drove up case numbers, resulting in record highs approximately two weeks after the holiday. 

On Jan. 4, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced two new cases of the B.1.1.7  variant of COVID-19 had been found in Massachusetts. Massachusetts has now reported seven cases of the variant first found in the United Kingdom, which is believed to be up to 50 percent more transmissible than the strains of the virus currently spreading. 

The only other New England state to report cases of the B.1.1.7 variant is Connecticut, which has reported a total of 17 confirmed cases.

The state reports two COVID-19 positivity rates—one with higher education testing and one without. The seven-day test positivity rate with higher education removed sits at 4.7 percent Tuesday, down from the 5.2 percent reported this time last week. The rate that includes higher education sits at 3.0 percent.

The state reported 1,401 total hospitalizations on Tuesday, down from the 1,631 reported this time last week. Hospitalizations in the state have declined in recent weeks, falling by 529 since Jan. 26, after rising by nearly 300 week over week during much of November and early December.

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.