Massachusetts reports 2,215 new coronavirus cases, lowest since Jan. 19


Photo: State House News Service

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker.

By Frankie Rowley, Content Managing Editor

Massachusetts reported 2,215 new coronavirus cases Tuesday, a significant decline from the 3,477 new infections reported Monday. The death toll rose by 41.

Tuesday’s cases mark the lowest cases have been since Jan.19. The state has been seeing a decline from the surge following the Christmas holiday, with cases averaging below 5,000 for the past two weeks. Massachusetts sae recording highs following the Christmas holiday–topping 7,000 three times, 

Mayor Martin J. Walsh announced in a press conference Tuesday that Boston would be moving up to Phase Three, Step One of reopening on Feb. 1. The new phase allows businesses, such as gyms, museums, movie theaters and sightseeing and organized tours, such as duck tours and whale watching, to reopen. 

Boston regressed to Phase Two, Step Two on Dec. 15. Cases were averaging around 5,000 at the end of November and into December, just above where cases are currently averaging.

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 6.4 percent Tuesday, down from the 7.3 percent reported this time last week. The rate that includes higher education sits at 4.8 percent. 

The state reported 1,951 total hospitalizations Tuesday, down from the 2,213 reported this time last week. Hospitalizations in the state have begun to decline in recent weeks, falling by a total of 254 since Jan. 12, after rising by nearly 300 week over week during much of November and early December. 

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health announced Tuesday that a third case of the more contagious coronavirus variant first discovered in the United Kingdom had been confirmed in the state. So far the state has reported three cases of the variant within two weeks. A Center 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.

Emerson reported no new positives out of the 50 tests administered Monday. The zero positive tests comes a day after Emerson reported 8 new positives following residential student move-in. 

Emerson has reported 19 positive tests within the first three weeks of the spring semester testing cycle, bringing the overall positivity rate to .43 percent. The last month of Emerson’s fall semester testing brought 28 new positives, compared to 32 over the course of the first three months of testing. The fall testing cycle’s overall positivity rate stood at 0.12 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.