Massachusetts reports 4,178 new coronavirus cases

By Ann E. Matica, Deputy News Editor

Massachusetts reported 4,178 new coronavirus cases Tuesday, a slight decline from the 4,358 new infections reported Monday. The death toll rose by 63.

The state is seeing a surge in the number of deaths caused by COVID-19. The death total surged past the seven-day average of 58 for the third time this week on Tuesday, with Massachusetts reporting 60 new deaths Monday and 105 new deaths Sunday. 

Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh announced that the city’s reopening roll back will be extended by three weeks due to the spike in cases during a press conference at Faneuil Hall on Tuesday.

The city will continue the rolled back reopening until Jan. 27, continuing the closures of indoor spaces, including movie theaters, gyms, museums, and indoor event spaces like meeting rooms. The city surpassed 1,000 coronavirus-related deaths last Tuesday. 

The state reports two COVID-19 positivity rates—one with higher education testing and one without. The seven-day test positivity rate without higher education sat at 8.57 percent on Tuesday, nearly identical to the 8.58 percent this time last week. 

The state reported 2,428 total hospitalizations Tuesday, compared to 2,259 this time last week. The rate at which hospitalizations are increasing is slowly declining. In past weeks, hospitalizations have grown by about 300 week over week.

Gov. Charlie Baker announced Tuesday that state officials already assume the highly contagious COVID-19 variant has reached Massachusetts, during a press conference in Springfield, MA. The first case of this variant in New York was reported on Monday. 

Emerson reported no new positives out of just 82 new tests administered Monday, Dec. 21. The college’s COVID-19 dashboard has not been updated in over two weeks.

From late November to mid-December, Emerson reported 28 new positives, compared to 32 between early August and late November. 

Students remaining on campus through winter break are 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 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.