Data Update

Massachusetts Data Update November 21, 2020

There are signs that the upward trajectory on test positivity is leveling off or even decreasing – unfortunately, with Thanksgiving less than a week away, I’m afraid this won’t last. We’ll get a much better handle on the situation in roughly two weeks or so, after the impacts from Thanksgiving start to show in the test and case data.


Table 1: Massachusetts Testing Statistics
7 Day  Trailing Average
November 21, 2020
Testing Statistic   Current 7 Days Ago 4 Weeks Ago
Test Positivity Rate (Individuals)   9.9% 10.9% 5.9%
Test Positivity Rate (Include Suspected)   10.7% 11.5% 6.2%
Test Positivity Rate (All Tests)   3.2% 3.4% 1.7%
Test Positivity Rate (Newly Tested)   9.9% 10.9% 5.9%
Test Positivity Rate (Repeat Testers)   0.6% 0.6% 0.4%
Percentage Repeat Testers   72.1% 72.7% 75.4%
Test Positivity Rate (Higher Ed)   0.4% 0.3% 0.1%
Test Positivity Rate (Non Higher Ed)   5.1% 5.4% 3.0%
Percentage Higher Ed Testers   40.7% 39.6% 44.9%
Newly Tested (Lagged 1 Week)   21,557 20,323 15,238
Higher Ed Tests (Lagged 1 Week)   31,232 32,324 29,483
All Tests (Lagged 1 Week)   78,851 77,038 62,869


Almost all measures of test positivity are better or no worse than one week ago, with the exception of higher education testing, for which positivity rates are marginally higher than one week ago. But higher education results are still better than any other category.  One other item to note: assuming statewide records are accurate, about 45% of the Massachusetts population has now been tested at least once for coronavirus.  Because of widespread higher education testing, the total number tested in Massachusetts (over 3 million) may include out-of-state college students, which would inflate the numbers somewhat.


Table 2: Massachusetts Hospitalization Statistics
7 Day Trailing Average
November 21, 2020
Hospitalization Statistic   Current 7 Days Ago 4 Weeks Ago
Confirmed  Patients Hospitalized   850 641 347
Confirmed  Patients in ICU   171 149 70
Confirmed  Patients Intubed   75 68 31
New Confirmed Admissions (17-Nov)
Net New Confirmed Patients   27 24 8
Net New ICU Patients   5 3 3
Net New Intubated Patients   2 2 1
 Percent ICU / Hospitalized   20% 23% 20%
 Percent Intubated / ICU   44% 46% 45%


I’ve added back a line to the Table outlining hospitalization statistics – New Confirmed Admissions.  After dropping this from the daily dashboard report, the state recently added it back to the weekly public health report.  It is only updated weekly, so I’ve included the as-of-date of November 17 in the report.  This also means that the figures for 7 days ago are as of November 10, and the figures for four weeks ago are as of October 20. 

Since hospitalizations lag cases (and case numbers are still increasing), it isn’t surprising that hospitalizations are continuing to increase, but the rate of increase might be slowing down. Still, the 7 day average of Covid patients in the hospital are up one-third from one week ago, but ICU patient are up less than 15%, and intubated patients are up about 10%.  Newly admitted patients increased by slightly more than 30%.


Table 3: Massachusetts Reported Case and Death Statistics
7 Day Trailing Average
November 21, 2020
Statistic   Current 7 Days Ago 4 Weeks Ago
Total Deaths Including Suspected   28 24 17
Total  Deaths Confirmed Only   27 23 16
Deaths in Long-Term Facilities (All Cases)   14 13 8
Percent from Long-Term Care   48% 53% 51%
Total Cases Including Suspected   2573 2367 939
Total Confirmed Cases   2409 2219 874


Cases are continuing to rise despite the leveling off of positivity rates, but at a slower rate than before – the 7 day average of confirmed cases is up only about 9% over the past week.  However, the state reported 2,991 confirmed cases on November 21, the second highest number of confirmed cases ever reported (the highest was on April 23), and 3,206 confirmed and suspected cases, the highest total yet. However, on April 23rd the 7 day average positivity rate for newly tested individuals was 24% compared to 10%.  There were also over 3800 patients in the hospital on April 23rd.

And, not surprisingly, deaths are also rising (it is now more than two months since the case increases started after Labor Day), with a 65% increase in the 7 day average rate compared to four weeks ago.  However, now about half of deaths are in long-term care facilities, compared to about 70% for most of the pandemic.   

3 replies on “Massachusetts Data Update November 21, 2020”

It will be interesting to see how much the testing drops after this week. I have not read about pre-holiday strain on the MA testing system, that other states have had.

On another note, there are still people who believe that a negative test a week before Thanksgiving renders them “safe”.

I would expect it to drop with colleges closing down for the holiday, and I believe some colleges are ending the term early. As a result, I’d expect overall positivity rates to increase, but what really matters is the rate by category – will the positivity rate outside of higher ed increase or not, for example? I had meant to include that in the post, but forgot.

Some colleges may be ending the term early. Other colleges are continuing the term, but remotely. At BC, students who leave the state for Thanksgiving will be remote the rest of the semester. Some schools are cancelling Spring Break and starting second semester classes a week later, so the holiday break will be especially long.

Like many, I expect an uptick after Thanksgiving and again after Christmas. It will be interesting to see what happens by later in January. There seems to be some Covid fatigue out there.

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