Massachusetts reports 5,657 new coronavirus cases


Photo: State House News Service

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker.

By Frankie Rowley, Content Managing Editor

Massachusetts reported 5,657 new coronavirus cases Saturday, a rise from the  5,074 new infections reported Friday. The death toll rose by 74. 

Saturday marks the fourth 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. 

The soaring case numbers came about two weeks following 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 likely drove up case numbers. Thanksgiving led to the state reporting more than 4,000 new cases five days in a row.  

On Jan. 8, 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.

The state is also seeing an uptick in the number of deaths caused by COVID-19. Saturday’s death total of 74 marks the sixth straight day that deaths have topped 50.

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 sits at 7.4 percent Saturday, down from the 8.6 percent reported this time last week. The rate that includes higher education sits at 6.2 percent, the lowest it’s been since Dec. 23. 

The state reported 2,197 total hospitalizations Saturday, down slightly from the 2,291 reported this time last week. Hospitalizations in the state have remained relatively stagnant in recent weeks, decreasing by a total of 94 since Jan. 2, after rising by nearly 300 week over week during much of November and early December.

Emerson reported one new positive out of 154 COVID-19 tests administered Thursday. The college has now reported five positives out of the 688 tests administered during the Spring 2021 testing period. 

The last month of Emerson’s fall semester testing brought 28 new positives, compared to 32 over the course of the first three months of testing. 

The dashboard was updated at 12:10 pm Friday. 

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.