Massachusetts reports 2,186 new coronavirus cases and 53 deaths


Photo: State House News Service

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker.

By Frankie Rowley, Content Managing Editor

Massachusetts reported 2,186 new coronavirus cases Wednesday, a rise from the 1,968 new infections reported Tuesday. The death toll rose by 53, a slight rise from Tuesday’s 45.  

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

Massachusetts’ 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 5.1 percent Wednesday, up from the 4.6 percent reported this time last week. The rate that includes higher education sits at 3.3 percent, the lowest it’s been since Nov. 21. 

The state reported 1,635 total hospitalizations Wednesday, down from the 1,930 reported this time last week. Hospitalizations in the state have declined in recent weeks, falling by a total of 517 since Jan. 20, after rising by nearly 300 week over week during much of November and early December.

Emerson reported ten new positive COVID-19 tests Wednesday, out of the 1,702 tests administered on Feb. 2. The 10 reported tests is the highest single day report of the spring semester and the second highest overnight positivity figure. The highest was 12 positives, reported on Nov. 18. 

In the fall, the overnight result of 12 positives prompted the college to suspend all non-academic activities. The college has yet to announce if any changes will be made in light of the overnight surge. 

Wednesday’s dashboard update also stated that 20 community members were quarantined on campus and 8 community members were in isolation. When the surge at the end of the fall semester occurred, 25 people were quarantined on campus, but only two were in isolation. 

The ten new positives reported Wednesday brings the spring testing cycle total to 53, 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 .49. In the fall, that rate ended up sitting at .12 percent. 

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.