Massachusetts reports 3,477 new coronavirus cases


State House News Service

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker.

By Frankie Rowley, Content Managing Editor

Massachusetts reported 3,477 new coronavirus cases Monday, down slightly from the 3,750 new infections reported Sunday. The death toll rose by 45.

The state has seen an uptick in cases over the past week, following 2,567 cases reported Jan. 19, the lowest number reported since Dec. 27. Massachusetts has been experiencing a decline from the record-breaking highs that were set three weeks ago, with cases consistently below 5,000. 

Coronavirus cases in Massachusetts hit record highs following the Christmas holiday—topping 7,000 three times and rising above 3,000 for three weeks straight. This week, cases have consistently stayed below 5,000. 

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 Monday, down from the 7.2 percent reported this time last week. The rate that includes higher education sits at 4.8 percent, the second time it has dipped below 5 percent since Nov. 29. 

The state reported 1,995 total hospitalizations Monday, down from the 2,206 reported this time last week. Hospitalizations in the state have begun to decline in recent weeks, falling by a total of 224 since Jan. 11, after rising by nearly 300 week over week during much of November and early December. 

Gov. Charlie Baker announced Monday that Massachusetts residents 75 and older and residents with two or more high-risk health conditions will be eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine starting Feb. 1. 

Residents ages 65 and older will be eligible to receive vaccinations in phase two of the rollout, which is set to start later in February. This means residents 65 and older will receive the vaccine before residents with one high-risk health condition, essential workers such as teachers, transit workers, and grocery workers, as well as sanitation, public health, public works workers. 

Emerson reported eight new positive tests on Monday out of 2,458 tests administered between Jan. 21 and 24. The dashboard was not updated over the weekend, despite testing being conducted for students who were moving in. 

Emerson has reported 19 positive tests within the first three weeks of the spring testing cycle, bringing the overall positivity rate to .44 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. 

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health announced Jan. 20 that a second case of the more contagious coronavirus variant first discovered in the United Kingdom had been confirmed in the state. The second confirmation came two days after its initial discovery in Massachusetts. 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.

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.