State House News Service
Massachusetts reported 1,928 new coronavirus cases Thursday, a rise from the 1,788 new infections reported Wednesday. The death toll rose by 33.
Thursday marks the twelfth day in a row cases have fallen below 2,000 in the state. Cases topped 2,000 each day from Nov. 30 to Feb. 2.
Gov. Charlie Baker announced on Thursday that Massachusetts will move into Phase Three, Step Two of reopening on March 1. The transition to Phase Three, Step Two, 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 fully operational without a capacity limit, however six-foot social distancing, six person per table, and 90 minute dining time limits will remain in place.
Gov. Baker also announced that the state will move into Phase Four, Step One on March 22. In Phase Four, Step One, indoor and outdoor stadiums, arenas, and ballparks will be permitted to reopen with a strict 12 percent capacity limit and approval of an operational plan by the Department of Health.
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 Thursday, down from the 4.2 percent reported this time last week. The rate that includes higher education sits at 1.9 percent.
The state reported 853 total hospitalizations on Thursday, down from the 1,313 reported this time last week. Thursday’s total marks just the fifth time hospitalizations dipped under 1,000 since Nov. 26—the fifth straight day.
Massachusetts reported 42,205 vaccinations administered on Thursday, bringing the state’s total to 1,518,481.
Emerson reported no new positive COVID-19 test results Thursday out of 228 new tests administered on Wednesday, keeping the college’s cumulative positive tests to 144. Emerson’s cumulative testing total sits at 78,536.
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 now reported six new positives this week, likely marking the sixth straight week double digit positives will be reported.
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.