Massachusetts reports 2,602 new coronavirus cases


Photo: State House News Service

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker.

By Frankie Rowley, Content Managing Editor

Massachusetts reported 2,602 new coronavirus cases Thursday, a rise from the 2,186 new infections reported Wednesday. The death toll rose by 74.  

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. 

Gov. Charlie Baker announced certain businesses, such as restaurants, museums, gyms, and movie theatres, will be allowed to operate at 45 percent capacity beginning Monday after being forced down to 25 percent capacity ahead of the Christmas holiday. The decision comes just days after the state surpassed 500,000 total coronavirus cases Monday, after reaching 400,000 on Jan. 8. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced two new confirmed cases of the B.1.1.7 variant first found in the United Kingdom 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. 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 Thursday, down from the 6.3 percent reported this time last week. The rate that includes higher education sits at 3.3 percent. 

The state reported 1,554 total hospitalizations Thursday, down from the 1,878 reported this time last week. Hospitalizations in the state have declined in recent weeks, falling by a total of 544 since Jan. 21, after rising by nearly 300 week over week during much of November and early December.

Emerson reported one new positive COVID-19 test Thursday, out of the 1,100 tests administered on Feb. 3, leaving the college’s cumulative positive tests since Aug. 6 at 114. Emerson’s cumulative testing total sits at 62,953. 

The one new positive comes a day after the college reported the highest single day total of positive COVID-19 tests over the course of both spring and fall semester testing. On Wednesday Emerson reported 10 positives from tests administered Tuesday. In the fall, the overnight result of 10 positives prompted the college to suspend all non-academic in person activities

The one new positive reported Thursday brings the spring testing cycle total to 54, 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 .45. In the fall, that rate was .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.