Massachusetts reports 538 new coronavirus cases

Massachusetts+Gov.+Charlie+Baker.+

Photo: State House News Service

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker.

By Frankie Rowley, Deputy Express Editor

Massachusetts reported 538 new coronavirus cases Thursday, a rise from the 425 new infections reported Wednesday. The death toll rose by 9.

Thursday’s report marks the first time this week that cases have topped 500, breaking a benchmark of cases dipping under 500 for three consecutive days last reached in late September. Monday’s case total marked the lowest cases have been since Aug. 21, 2020, when 283 new cases were reported. 

By May 29, more than two months ahead of the schedule previously announced, Massachusetts intends to lift all remaining COVID-19 restrictions and the state of emergency that’s been in place since March 10, 2020 will be lifted June 15, Gov. Charlie Baker said Monday morning. 

The state’s requirement that people wear face coverings will end May 29 and be replaced by an advisory consistent with the recent U.S. Centers for Disease Control guidance that vaccinated people no longer need to wear a mask in most settings.

Masks will still be required on public transportation, in health care settings, schools and congregate living settings regardless of vaccination status. 

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The state reports two COVID-19 positivity rates—one with higher education testing and one without. On Thursday, the seven-day test positivity rate with higher education testing removed sat at 1.7 percent, down from 2.0 percent this time last week. The rate that includes higher education sits at 1.0 percent.

The state reported 327 hospitalizations Thursday, down from the 385 reported this time last week. Thursday’s report marks the lowest number of hospitalizations since Oct. 18 when 334 were reported.

On Thursday, Massachusetts reported 62,539 new vaccinations, bringing the state’s total to 7,344,364. Over 48 percent of the state’s population is now fully inoculated against COVID-19—meaning they have received both doses of the vaccines manufactured by Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech, or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. 

Emerson reported no new positive COVID-19 tests on Thursday out of the 53 tests administered on Wednesday. Zero community members were reported to be in on-campus isolation and quarantine.  

The spring semester testing cycle concluded with 169 positive COVID-19 tests reported and a positivity rate of 0.21 percent, compared to the 60 cases and 0.12 percent positivity rate reported in the fall. Over the fall and spring semesters, 229 positive tests were reported, adding up to a 0.17 percent positivity rate. 

The college’s dashboard is typically 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.