Massachusetts reports 6,887 new coronavirus cases, highest single day total of pandemic


State House News Service

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker.

By Charlie McKenna

Massachusetts reported 6,887 new coronavirus cases Thursday, a drastic rise from the 6,135 new infections reported Wednesday and the highest single-day case total since the pandemic began. The death toll rose by 81.

Thursday is the second day in a row new cases topped 6,000 in the state. Wednesday’s case total was the third highest of the pandemic. The soaring case numbers come less than a week 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 to continue to drive up case totals. Thanksgiving led to the state reporting more than 4,000 new cases five days in a row.  

The recent spike in cases prompted Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh to roll back the city’s reopening Dec. 14. 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 city surpassed 1,000 coronavirus-related deaths Tuesday. 

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 sat at 9.35 percent Thursday. That rate fell to 7.02 percent this time last week. The rate that includes higher education testing sits at 8.60 percent. 

The state reported 2,271 total hospitalizations Thursday, compared to 2,095 this time last week. The rate at which hospitalizations are increasing has slowed in the state as the number had risen by 300 week over week in the last month. The 2,271 hospitalizations constitute 88 percent of the state’s total non-surge hospital capacity.

Emerson reported no new positives out of just 82 new tests administered last Monday. The college’s COVID-19 dashboard has not been updated in more than a week.

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 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.