Massachusetts reports 1,679 new coronavirus cases


State House News Service

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker.

By Dana Gerber, News Editor

Massachusetts reported 1,679 new coronavirus cases Friday, a drop from the 1,803 new infections reported Wednesday. The death toll rose by 36. 

On Feb. 16, the state reported 967 cases, the first time cases have fallen below 1,000 since Nov. 3. The state has seen record lows in the last week following the record highs likely fueled by Christmas holiday travels. 

Emerson reported one new positive COVID-19 test result Friday out of 447 new tests administered on Thursday, bringing the college’s cumulative positive tests to 136. Emerson’s cumulative testing total sits at 74,427. 

Since testing resumed on Jan. 11, the college has reported 76 positives— rapidly surpassing the 60 positive tests reported over the entire fall semester—and a positivity rate of .32 percent. 

The latest dashboard update reported that 28 community members were in quarantine on campus and five were in isolation on campus. Isolation is for people who are known or “reasonably known” to be infected. Quarantine is for people who may have been exposed but are not showing symptoms of COVID-19 yet.

On Tuesday, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health announced the first confirmed case of the B.1.315 COVID-19 variant first discovered in South Africa. 

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 sat at 3.6 percent Friday, down from the 3.9 percent reported this time last week. The rate that includes higher education sits at 2.1 percent.

The state reported 990 total hospitalizations on Friday, down from the 1,149 reported this time last week. Hospitalizations in the state have declined steadily since early January, after they rose by nearly 300 week over week for much of November and December. 

Massachusetts reported Friday that 1,323,656 vaccinations have been administered, up from the 1,267,262 vaccinations reported Wednesday. 

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.