Massachusetts reports 1,734 new coronavirus cases


Stuart Cahill/Pool Photo

Gov. Charlie Baker speaks to the media after receiving a flu shot at a CVS in Roslindale on September 17, 2020 in Boston, MA.

By Charlie McKenna

Massachusetts reported 1,734 new coronavirus cases Friday, up from the 1,928 new infections reported Thursday. The death toll rose by 46. 

Cases have fallen below 2,000 in the state each day for the past two weeks after topping that mark each day from Nov. 30 to Feb. 2. 

Gov. Charlie Baker announced  Thursday that Massachusetts will move into Phase Three, Step Two of reopening on March 1. The transition will allow venues such as indoor performance venues and indoor recreational facilities to reopen with a 50 percent capacity limit. In Phase Three, Step Two, restaurants will be allowed to operate without a capacity limit, however several other safety measures like time limits and social distancing will stay in place. 

The state will also move into Phase Four, Step One on March 22 where indoor and outdoor stadiums, arenas, and ballparks will be permitted to reopen with a 12 percent capacity limit. 

In Phase Four, Step One, capacity limits will increase to 100 people per indoor gathering and 150 people per outdoor gathering in public settings. The 25 person capacity limit will remain on all personal outdoor gatherings, and the 10 person capacity limit will remain on all personal indoor gatherings. 

On Feb. 19, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health announced the second confirmed case of the B.1.315 COVID-19 variant first discovered in South Africa, and 15 more cases of the B.1.1.7 variant first discovered in the United Kingdom, bringing the state’s total to 44. 

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 3.1 percent Friday, down from the 3.6 percent reported this time last week. The rate that includes higher education sits at 1.9 percent. 

The state reported 807 total hospitalizations on Thursday, down from the 1,149 reported this time last week. Friday’s total marks just the sixth time hospitalizations dipped under 1,000 since Nov. 26—the sixth straight day. 

Massachusetts reported 56,252 vaccinations administered on Friday, bringing the state’s total to 1,622,553. 

Emerson reported no new positive COVID-19 test results Thursday out of 1,108 new tests administered on Feb. 24 and 25, keeping the college’s cumulative positive tests at 144. Emerson’s cumulative testing total sits at 79,644.

Since testing resumed on Jan. 11, the college has reported 84 positive tests—topping the 60 reported over the entire fall semester—and a positivity rate of .30 percent. The college has reported six new positives this week. 

The dashboard reported two community members in isolation on campus and 11 in quarantine on campus. Yesterday, two community members were in isolation and 11 were quarantined. 

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. 

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.