Massachusetts reports 1,968 new cases, lowest since Nov. 30


State House News Service

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker.

By Frankie Rowley

Massachusetts reported 1,968 new coronavirus cases Tuesday, a drastic decrease from the 2,220 new infections reported Monday. The death toll rose by 45, a slight rise from Monday’s 30. 

Tuesday’s total positives is the lowest number Massachusetts has seen since Nov. 30, which reported 1,116 confirmed cases. The figure has not dipped below 2,000 since then. 

Massachusset’s cumulative total cases topped 500,000 on Monday, just weeks after the total topped 400,000 on Jan. 8. Massachusetts surpassed 300,000 cases on Dec. 18 and 200,000 cases on Nov. 22. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that two confirmed cases of the B.1.1.7 variant had been reported in Massachusetts on Sunday. The state has reported a total of five cases of B.1.1.7 in a three-week period. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report on Jan. 15 warned that the variant could become the dominant strain in the U.S. as early March. The U.K. variant is believed to be 50 percent more transmissive than current variants of COVID-19.

The only other New England state to report cases of the B.1.1.7 variant is Connecticut, which has a total of 8 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 5.2 percent Tuesday, down from the 6.4 percent reported this time last week. The rate that includes higher education sits at 3.4 percent, the lowest it’s been since Nov. 25. 

The state reported 1,631 total hospitalizations Tuesday, down from the 1,951 reported this time last week. Hospitalizations in the state have declined in recent weeks, falling by a total of 578 since Jan. 19, after rising by nearly 300 week over week during much of November and early December.

Emerson one new positive COVID-19 test Tuesday, out of the single test administered on Jan. 31. Test resultsmay be partial due to test data from the Broad Institute can take up to 48 hours to be processed and sent to the college. The cumulative total of positives since testing began in August has risen to 103. The college’s cumulative testing total sits at 60,151. 

The one new positive reported Tuesday brings the spring testing cycle total to 43, after just three full weeks of testing. In the fall, the college reported 60 positives across the four months testing was administered. 

Emerson’s test positivity rate for the spring currently sits at .47. In the fall, that rate ended up at .12 percent. 

The college reported 23 new positive tests last week, the highest figure across any week of testing across either the fall or spring. In the fall, when the college reported 12 new positives overnight, all non-academic in person activities were canceled. 

Emerson’s testing site at a Tufts Medical Center facility was closed on Monday due to a snowstorm blanketing New England. Students who usually get tested on Mondays are able to reschedule their test depending on their cohort. 

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.