Massachusetts reports 3,987 new coronavirus cases


Photo: State House News Service

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker.

By Frankie Rowley, Content Managing Editor

Massachusetts reported 3,987 new coronavirus cases Wednesday, a drastic rise from the 2,567 new infections reported Tuesday. The death toll rose by 78. 

Wednesday marks the second time this week that cases have topped 3,000. Last week, Massachusetts saw a decline from the record-breaking highs set the week prior, with cases consistently below 6,000. 

The soaring case numbers came about two weeks following the Christmas holiday that officials warned could drive another surge in infections. The incubation period for the virus is believed to be between two and 14 days from exposure, so holiday travel and gatherings likely drove up case numbers. Thanksgiving led to the state reporting more than 4,000 new cases five days in a row.  

The United States has surpassed 400,000 deaths due to the pandemic, according to data gathered by Johns Hopkins. The country has been observing a surge in the number of deaths caused by the virus throughout the winter months, with January reporting record highs. 

Emerson reported no new positive tests on Wednesday, following the holiday weekend. Wednesday’s results accounted for only three tests, but the college does warn that “the most recent day’s test results may be partial,” and says 48 hours may be necessary to get a complete data set from the Broad Institute, which manages the tests. 

The second week of spring semester testing has seen no new positives from Emerson, following the five that were reported last week. 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 dashboard was updated at 12:15 pm on Wednesday. 

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health announced Sunday the first confirmed case of the coronavirus variant first discovered in the United Kingdom has been identified in Massachusetts. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have confirmed 88 cases of the variant in the U.S. since its initial discovery in December. A CDC 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. 

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 7.3 percent Wednesday, down from the 8.3 percent reported this time last week. The rate that includes higher education sits at 5.9 percent. 

The state reported 2,209 total hospitalizations Wednesday, up slightly from the 2,200 reported this time last week. Hospitalizations in the state have begun to decline in recent weeks, falling by a total of 177 since Jan. 6, after rising by nearly 300 week over week during much of November and early December.

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.