Massachusetts reports 5,278 new coronavirus cases

Massachusetts+Gov.+Charlie+Baker+urged+residents+on+Tuesday+to+celebrate+the+winter+holidays+safely+as+COVID-19+cases+continue+to+surge+in+the+commonwealth.+

Media: Jonathan Wiggs/Boston Globe/Pool

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker urged residents on Tuesday to celebrate the winter holidays safely as COVID-19 cases continue to surge in the commonwealth.

By Frankie Rowley, Assistant News Editor

Emerson reported one new positive out of 253 new tests administered on Jan. 11 and 12, marking the first time Emerson’s dashboard has been updated since Dec. 22, a full three weeks where no new data was reported. 

The new data was reported at 12:08 p.m. 

Massachusetts reported 5,278 new coronavirus cases Wednesday, up from the 4,906 new infections reported Tuesday. The death toll rose by 86. 

Wednesday marks the first time this week that cases have risen above 5,000. Last week Massachusetts saw record-breaking highs, with cases surpassing 6,000 three days in a row and topping 7,000 for the first time of the pandemic. 

On Friday, the state surpassed 400,000 cumulative COVID-19 cases, less than a month since topping 300,000 on Dec. 18. Massachusetts did not surpass 200,000 total cases until Nov. 22.

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The soaring case numbers come more than two weeks removed from 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 are likely now driving up case numbers. Thanksgiving led to the state reporting more than 4,000 new cases five days in a row.  

The state is also seeing an uptick in the number of deaths caused by COVID-19. Wednesday’s death total of 86 above the seven-day average of 67, a number which has been climbing steadily for the past several weeks. 

The state reports two COVID-19 positivity rates—one with higher education testing and one without. The seven-day test positivity rate higher education removed sat at 8.3 percent Wednesday, down from the 9.4 percent reported this time last week. The rate that includes higher education sits at 7.1 percent. 

The state reported 2,200 total hospitalizations Wednesday, down from 2,416 this time last week. Hospitalizations in the state have remained relatively stagnant in recent weeks, increasing by a total of 44 since Dec. 26, after rising by nearly 300 week over week during much of November and early December.

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.