Massachusetts reports 4,613 new coronavirus cases


State House News Service

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker.

By Charlie McKenna

Massachusetts reported 4,613 new coronavirus cases Wednesday, a dramatic rise from the 2,845 new infections reported Tuesday. The state’s death total rose by 46.

Wednesday’s total marks the second-highest total reported in a single day by the state since the pandemic began. The Department of Public Health reported 4,946 new cases on April 24, which was a result of a reporting error by a laboratory responsible for processing test results for several states. 

New infections in the state have steadily risen since mid-September. Now in the midst of a second wave, city and state officials are warning against Thanksgiving travel and gatherings, which experts say could accelerate the spread of the virus.

The state recently changed the way it reports COVID-19 positivity rates, separating higher education testing into its own category. The seven-day test positivity rate with higher education testing removed sits at 6.85 percent, up from 4.61 percent just yesterday. 

Hospitalizations from COVID-19 are currently surging. On Tuesday, the state reported 1,259 total hospitalizations, compared to 613 a month ago.

Emerson reported no new positive test results Wednesday out of 232 new tests administered Tuesday, leaving the college’s cumulative positive test total to 54. Emerson’s cumulative testing total sits at 50,058. 

The two positives reported Tuesday bring the total of positive tests among community members to 22 since Nov. 22, by far the highest total over a ten-day period from the semester. Those positives make up 40 percent of the total positives reported this semester. The college’s cumulative test positivity rate rose above .1 percent—to .11 percent—for the first time since regular testing of community members began in late August. 

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.