Data Update

Massachusetts Data Update December 17, 2020

It has been over a week since my previous post, with very little change in the statistics other than hospitalizations. Testing positivity rates generally are somewhat higher than those reported in the prior post, but the large increases in positivity rates seem to be abating. However, even if the current case and positivity rates level off, the increasing strains on medical and hospital resources aren’t sustainable in the long run.

Keeping in mind that positivity rates are updated retroactively as more test results get reported, the positivity rate for newly tested individuals (that group represents 25% to 30% of all tests) has been essentially stable for over a week. The test positivity rates for other groups are roughly at the same levels as two weeks ago – other than repeat testers, for which positivity is continuing to increase slowly, and is at its highest level in almost five months. This may be because higher education testing, for which the positivity rate remains very low, has declined to about one-quarter of all testing, down from about 40% before Thanksgiving (virtually all higher education testing is repeat testing). Overall testing counts are higher again after dipping somewhat through Thanksgiving.


Table 1: Massachusetts Testing Statistics
7 Day  Trailing Average
December 17, 2020
Testing Statistic   Current 7 Days Ago 4 Weeks Ago
Test Positivity Rate (Individuals)   18.8% 18.8% 10.8%
Test Positivity Rate (Include Suspected)   19.8% 19.6% 11.5%
Test Positivity Rate (All Tests)   6.0% 6.1% 3.4%
Test Positivity Rate (Newly Tested)   18.8% 18.8% 10.8%
Test Positivity Rate (Repeat Testers)   1.3% 1.0% 0.6%
Percentage Repeat Testers   72.9% 71.3% 72.7%
Test Positivity Rate (Higher Ed)   0.4% 0.5% 0.4%
Test Positivity Rate (Non Higher Ed)   7.9% 8.1% 5.3%
Percentage Higher Ed Testers   25.1% 25.3% 37.8%
Newly Tested (Lagged 1 Week)   24,406 20,683 20,824
Higher Ed Tests (Lagged 1 Week)   21,491 17,810 31,094
All Tests (Lagged 1 Week)   84,928 70,174 78,218


Not surprisingly, hospitalizations continue to increase.   Unfortunately, case levels from several weeks back were sufficiently high that the number of new admissions to hospitals is greater than the number of discharges (and deaths), which leads to more covid hospitalizations.  The only positive news is that the number of net hospital admissions hasn’t changed much over the prior four weeks.  Unfortunately, that isn’t the case with ICU or intubated patients, as the net patient increases are trending higher.


Table 2: Massachusetts Hospitalization Statistics
7 Day Trailing Average
December 17, 2020
Hospitalization Statistic   Current 7 Days Ago 4 Weeks Ago
Confirmed  Patients Hospitalized   1761 1498 792
Confirmed  Patients in ICU   354 298 162
Confirmed  Patients Intubed   187 151 72
New Confirmed Admissions (15-Dec)   229 195 105
Net New Confirmed Patients   38 40 37
Net New ICU Patients   11 7 4
Net New Intubated Patients   6 4 1
 Percent ICU / Hospitalized   20% 20% 20%
 Percent Intubated / ICU   53% 51% 45%


Cases and death counts are essentially stable from one week ago.  The percentage of deaths in long-term care facilities are also stable, and have decreased substantially since four weeks ago and from earlier in the pandemic. Since deaths overall are significantly higher than four weeks ago, this means that deaths outside of long-term care account for the bulk of the increase from four weeks ago.

Table 3: Massachusetts Reported Case and Death Statistics
7 Day Trailing Average
December 17, 2020
Statistic   Current 7 Days Ago 4 Weeks Ago
Total Deaths Including Suspected   50 48 28
Total  Deaths Confirmed Only   49 47 27
Deaths in Long-Term Facilities (All Cases)   17 17 15
Percent from Long-Term Care   34% 36% 55%
Total Cases Including Suspected   4924 4839 2623
Total Confirmed Cases   4692 4599 2442




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