Data Update

Massachusetts Data Update December 30, 2020

It’s deja vu all over again.  (But worse).  A few days before Thanksgiving, test positivity rates, which had begun to level off after sharply rising through much of the fall, began to increase significantly again. A few weeks after Thanksgiving, positivity rates had once again started to level off and even decline somewhat from the Thanksgiving surge. Unfortunately, on the 24th of December, positivity rates across all testing categories started to increase once again, with no short-term end in sight.

For newly tested individuals, the 7 day trailing positivity rate is at its highest level since April 23rd. Higher education positivity rates are at their highest recorded level, but the state didn’t break out this category until mid-August. Not surprisingly, higher education testing has declined significantly, currently accounting for about 10% of all tests. Conversely, the highest percentage of tests since early September are for people being tested for the first time.  This could be because of the drop in higher education testing (almost all repeat testing) or because more people are feeling symptomatic and are getting tested.


Table 1: Massachusetts Testing Statistics
7 Day  Trailing Average
December 30, 2020
Testing Statistic   Current 7 Days Ago 4 Weeks Ago
Test Positivity Rate (Individuals)   23.0% 18.1% 17.0%
Test Positivity Rate (Include Suspected)   24.9% 18.8% 18.0%
Test Positivity Rate (All Tests)   8.4% 6.1% 5.7%
Test Positivity Rate (Newly Tested)   23.0% 18.1% 17.0%
Test Positivity Rate (Repeat Testers)   1.7% 1.3% 1.0%
Percentage Repeat Testers   68.5% 71.3% 70.6%
Test Positivity Rate (Higher Ed)   0.6% 0.4% 0.5%
Test Positivity Rate (Non Higher Ed)   9.4% 7.3% 7.4%
Percentage Higher Ed Testers   10.7% 17.3% 25.3%
Newly Tested (Lagged 1 Week)   24,637 24,457 26,103
Higher Ed Tests (Lagged 1 Week)   14,830 20,118 31,140
All Tests (Lagged 1 Week)   85,842 87,781 94,095


The number of patients in the hospital is also increasing, but at a slower rate than over the past week or month.  So far, hospitalizations are under control, but we haven’t seen the likely surge from the Christmas (and New Years?) positivity and case increases.  The percentage of hospitalized patients in the ICU has held steady at about 20% for quite some time, but the percentage of ICU patients who are intubated is increasing – clearly not a good sign but perhaps only temporary.


Table 2: Massachusetts Hospitalization Statistics
7 Day Trailing Average
December 30, 2020
Hospitalization Statistic   Current 7 Days Ago 4 Weeks Ago
Confirmed  Patients Hospitalized   2167 1950 1100
Confirmed  Patients in ICU   421 393 233
Confirmed  Patients Intubed   233 212 117
New Confirmed Admissions (15-Dec)   229 229 125
Net New Confirmed Patients   27 31 45
Net New ICU Patients   3 4 8
Net New Intubated Patients   1 3 3
 Percent ICU / Hospitalized   19% 20% 21%
 Percent Intubated / ICU   55% 54% 50%


The inevitable consequence of rising positivity, case counts, and hospitalizations is deaths.  There had not been more than 100 reported deaths in one day since May 20th, and Massachusetts surpassed that threshold both on December 27th and December 30th, increasing the 7 day average number of reported deaths to its highest level since early June.  The percentage of deaths in long-term care continues to remain (relatively) low, even as the absolute number of long-term care deaths has risen with the total number of deaths.  Case counts have leveled off, although testing is down somewhat as a result of the holidays.


Table 3: Massachusetts Reported Case and Death Statistics
7 Day Trailing Average
December 30, 2020
Statistic   Current 7 Days Ago 4 Weeks Ago
Total Deaths Including Suspected   67 54 34
Total  Deaths Confirmed Only   66 53 34
Deaths in Long-Term Facilities (All Cases)   22 17 15
Percent from Long-Term Care   33% 32% 45%
Total Cases Including Suspected   4593 4554 2927
Total Confirmed Cases   4302 4334 2716


4 replies on “Massachusetts Data Update December 30, 2020”

Thank you for this, Snoyd. Any thoughts on the new variant? Although I am thrilled about the vaccines, I do think the American public is being told not to panic about the new variant in the US, when in fact, we should be taking the new variant incredibly seriously. I think it’s going to adversely affect the course of the pandemic Jan, Feb and March, and that officials should be particularly careful about reopening offices, schools, etc. I’m remembering in Jan and Feb 2020 when officials said not to panic about this new coronavirus; we can see where that led us.

I’m just assuming that the new variant will act as an accelerant on the case numbers and the positivity rate, although I’m not sure I understand exactly what 50% more contagious means. I think it will be hard at first to separate out the effects of the new variant from what I expect to be a continuing increase in cases and positivity from the post-Christmas period, which is already terrible. Also, I wouldn’t be surprised if the new variant is already here, since we do much less testing for variants than the UK, for example. No doubt it is a mess, especially given people’s lackadaisical behavior at Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years. And it appears it is going to take a long time for the vaccine rollout.

If the state finally get serious about mass vaccinations of the most at risk to deaths and hospitalizations we could improve things quickly. I cannot believe how bungled this start has been. They still are debating where, how, and by whom vaccinations are going to happen. Why they didn’t have it done before is baffling. Charlie better get off his backside. Won’t be able to blame Trump anymore soon. Who will they blame then.

Just wanted to say thank you, Snoyd. I always looked forward to your Globe comments, and was thrilled that you started this blog. Thank you! All best for 2021.

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