Massachusetts reports 3,720 new coronavirus cases


Domenic Conte

A sign on the window of Emerson’s coronavirus testing site at Tufts Medical Center.

By Charlie McKenna

Massachusetts reported 3,720 new coronavirus cases Tuesday, down from the 3,572 new infections reported Sunday. The state’s death total rose by 55.

The recent spike in cases prompted Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh to roll back the city’s reopening beginning Wednesday. Boston will move out of phase three, step one and into phase two, step two. 

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker urged residents not to gather for the December holidays after Thanksgiving travel and gatherings likely caused the recent dramatic rise in cases. 

On Dec. 1, five days after Thanksgiving, the state was averaging about 2,400 new COVID-19 cases each day. A week later, squarely within the 10- to 14-day incubation period for COVID-19 transmission on Thanksgiving, the average number of daily new cases had nearly doubled to almost 4,800, Baker said.

“That’s a 96 percent increase in a little over a week. Similarly, prior to Thanksgiving, our positive test rate was pretty stable and had consistently been somewhere in the two-three percent range, under four percent. The current test rate, as most people know, is around 5.7 percent,” Baker said.

In the last three weeks, hospitalizations for COVID-19 are up 93 percent, the number of patients being treated in an intensive care unit for COVID-19 is up 73 percent and the number of patients who need a ventilator to breathe has gone up by 104 percent, Baker said. Deaths have increased by 84 percent since Thanksgiving and the virus has claimed the lives of 689 people in Massachusetts since Thanksgiving.

The state reports two COVID-19 positivity rates—with higher education testing and without. The seven day test positivity rate with higher education testing removed has seemingly plateaued—sitting at 7.72 percent Tuesday, and 7.76 percent a week ago. 

Hospitalizations from COVID-19 are currently surging. On Tuesday, the state reported 1,834 total hospitalizations, compared to 1,552 last week.

Emerson reported no new positives on just 86 new tests administered on Monday. The college’s cumulative positive tests sits at 57, while the cumulative testing total rose to 50,715 Tuesday,  

Students remaining on campus through winter break will be tested on Tuesdays each week. Administrators told The Beacon fewer than 30 students remain on campus through the break. 

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 have said 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.

Collin A. Young of the State House News Service contributed reporting.