Massachusetts reports 5,655 new coronavirus cases


State House News Service

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker.

By Charlie McKenna

Massachusetts reported 5,655 new coronavirus cases Thursday, a dramatic rise from the 4,509 new infections reported Wednesday. The death toll rose by 76.

The state’s cumulative case total surged past 300,000 on Friday, a grim marker that comes less than a month after Massachusetts reached the 200,000 mark on Nov. 22. New cases in Massachusetts have topped 3,000 every day since Dec. 7.

The recent spike in cases prompted Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh to roll back the city’s reopening last Wednesday. Boston will move out of phase three, step one and into phase two, step two. The new restrictions bring the closure of indoor spaces that had previously reopened, including movie theaters, gyms, museums, and indoor event spaces like meeting rooms. 

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 sits at 7.02 percent Thursday, compared to 7.90 percent a week ago. 

The state reported 2,095 total hospitalizations Thursday, compared to 1,871 this time last week. This constitutes 85 percent of the state’s total non-surge hospital capacity.

The 76 deaths reported Thursday mark the second straight day new deaths topped daily averages, as Massachusetts reported 81 new deaths Wednesday. The seven-day average sits at 52. 

Emerson reported no new positives out of just 82 new tests administered Monday. 

Three new positives were reported last week, bringing Emerson’s cumulative positivity rate up to .12 percent, after it fell as low .08 percent over the course of the semester. Last month, Emerson reported 28 new positives, compared to 32 between early August and late November. 

Students remaining on campus through winter break are being 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.