Massachusetts reports 2,228 new coronavirus cases


Jonathan Wiggs/Boston Globe/Pool

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker.

By Charlie McKenna

Massachusetts reported 2,228 new coronavirus cases Friday, a slight tick up from the 2,213 new infections reported on Thursday. The death toll rose by 87. 

Monday’s total of 1,276 new cases was the lowest number the state saw since Nov. 30

Infections have declined steadily across the state in the past month, after Christmas holiday travel and gatherings likely drove up case numbers, resulting in record highs approximately two weeks after the holiday. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced one new case of the B.1.1.7  variant of COVID-19 had been found in Massachusetts on Friday. Massachusetts has now reported ten cases of the variant first found in the United Kingdom, which is believed to be up to 50 percent more transmissible than the strains of the virus currently spreading. 

Connecticut, which has reported 17, and New Hampshire, which has reported one, are the only other New England states to report cases of the U.K. variant. 

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 4.1 percent Thursday, down from the 5.1 percent reported this time last week. The rate that includes higher education sits at 2.5 percent, the lowest since Nov. 5. 

The state reported 1,223 total hospitalizations on Thursday, down from the 1,503  reported this time last week. Hospitalizations in the state have declined steadily since early January, after they rose by nearly 300 week over week for much of November and December. 

Emerson reported no new positive COVID-19 test results Friday out of 494 new tests administered on Feb. 10 and 11, leaving the college’s cumulative positive tests since Aug. 6 at 123. Emerson’s cumulative testing total sits at 69,278.

The three new positives reported Wednesday brought the spring semester total to 63, surpassing the total of 60 seen in the fall. The college surpassed the fall total in just four and a half weeks of testing, a result of some “community spread,” according to administrators. 

The dashboard reported six community members in isolation on campus and 27 in quarantine on campus. Yesterday, seven community members were in isolation and 19 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.