Zero COVID-19 cases reported over the long weekend


Photo: Hongyu Liu

COVID testing site locating at 116 Harrison Avenue.

By Adri Pray, Editor-at-large

On Tuesday, Emerson reported zero COVID-19 tests for Friday and Saturday of the 432 tests administered, and no data was readily available for Sunday and Monday.

The college also reported five community members in on-campus isolation. Zero were reported to be in on-campus quarantine. 

Those in quarantine may have been exposed to COVID-19 but aren’t experiencing symptoms. Those in isolation are symptomatic, have produced a positive test, or are “reasonably known to be infected,” according to the college. Off-campus students are not counted in the quarantine and isolation numbers.

As of Jan. 3, Emerson has reported 462 positive cases and administered 32,893 tests. The cumulative positivity rate sits at 1.40 percent.

Students are expected to continue to test weekly, per updated COVID-19 guidance put in place Feb. 7.

The state’s upwards tick of COVID-19 cases continued on Tuesday as Massachusetts reported 4,118 positive cases for Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday, with a daily positivity rate of 2.44 percent. The death toll rose to 37.

Hospitalizations went down as reported on Tuesday as the state reported 573, with 312 of these hospitalizations occurring in those who are fully vaccinated.

The state of Massachusetts also tracks two kinds of COVID-19 positivity rates—one including higher education testing and one without. The seven-day positive rate without higher education sits at 4.08 percent as of Feb. 16. Including higher education, the rate sits at 2.44 percent as of Feb. 21.

Massachusetts reported 33,479 new vaccinations—including boosters—from Friday to Tuesday, bringing the state’s total to 13,872,931 doses. Tuesday’s daily vaccination update reported that 5,275,850 Mass. residents—according to Mass. Department of Health data, approximately 76 percent of the state’s population—are fully vaccinated, meaning that they have received both doses of the Moderna or Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. 

Governor Charlie Baker announced the lift of the mandatory mask mandate in kindergarten through twelfth-grade by Feb. 28. The high vaccination rate in Massachusetts was the main reason for lifting the mask mandate, cited Baker.

However, Boston Mayor Michelle Wu announced that Boston Public Schools would not be lifting the mask mandate, and is electing to wait to see “a consistent trend of downward progress,” as young children are not being vaccinated as fast as other age groups, she said in a news conference.

The Boston Public Health Commission will consider easing the mask mandate for public kindergarten through twelfth grade schools once the same baseline requirements as relaxing the vaccination mandate is met.

The Massachusetts Department of Health loosened the mask restriction last week after advising certain severely immunocompromised individuals to continue to mask in public spaces following the dip in Massachusetts’ COVID-19 cases.

Friday, Emerson announced a shift in COVID-19 policy, including the allocation of non-Emerson guests in residence halls starting Feb. 22 and will drop the non-classroom indoor mask mandate starting March 21. The decision comes as Emerson sees a campus-wide decline in COVID-19 cases.

Also Friday, Mayor Wu lifted the proof-of-vaccine requirement for all Boston residents citing the drop to previously established thresholds.

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.