Data Update

Massachusetts Data Update October 7, 2020

There are signs that we are stabilizing once again in Massachusetts, but unfortunately with higher test positivity rates than before. Positivity rates for newly tested individuals have been above 3% since September 26th, and the 7 day average rate is currently 3.6%. However, this  rate has not changed since the beginning of the month. The overall test positivity rate is still 1.1% (unchanged since September 28th), and positivity is at 0.2% for repeat testers (unchanged for a month). Testing remains dominated by repeat testers.


Table 1: Massachusetts Testing Statistics
7 Day  Trailing Average
October 7, 2020
Testing Statistic   Current 7 Days Ago 4 Weeks Ago
Test Positivity Rate (Individuals)   3.6% 3.5% 2.0%
Test Positivity Rate (Include Suspected)   3.9% 3.7% 2.1%
Test Positivity Rate (All Tests)   1.1% 1.1% 0.8%
Test Positivity Rate (Newly Tested)   3.6% 3.5% 2.0%
Test Positivity Rate (Repeat Testers)   0.2% 0.2% 0.2%
Percentage Repeat Testers   74.1% 72.7% 67.2%
Newly Tested (Lagged 1 Week)   15,990 14,300 21,520
All Tests (Lagged 1 Week)   58,675 55,480 46,364


As cases and positivity rates increased over the past few weeks, it is perhaps inevitable that hospitalizations would increase as well, but with a bit of a lag. The 7 day average of hospitalized patients and the number of intubated patients are both at their highest level since the end of July. The 7 day average of newly admitted patients is at its highest level since the beginning of July.


Table 2: Massachusetts Hospitalization Statistics
7 Day Trailing Average
October 7, 2020
Hospitalization Statistic   Current 7 Days Ago 4 Weeks Ago
Covid Patients Hospitalized   456 404 324
Covid Patients in ICU   82 84 53
Covid Patients Intubed   31 29 24
New Confirmed Patients   34 31 22
Percent ICU / Hospitalized   18% 21% 16%
Percent Intubated / ICU   38% 34% 45%


Deaths from Covid continue unabated. One anomaly in the statistics today is the percentage of deaths from long-term care facilities, which spiked to 87% of all deaths in the past week.  This is an artifact of the way data is reported in Massachusetts: on October 5th, the state reported an additional 43 deaths in long-term care facilities, but only 20 new deaths overall. 

Undoubtedly, the 43 long-term care deaths represent some sort of backdating of prior deaths, but it is unclear as to why this reporting isn’t reflected in the overall death figures.  This points out that short run trends may be somewhat unreliable – however, a salient statistic is that over 70% of deaths from Covid in Massachusetts since June 1 have been in long-term care facilities (looking at this percentage over a longer period removes short-term reporting anomalies) .  Cases continue upward, with higher positivity rates and overall testing that is flat.  We haven’t had this many cases since the end of May.


Table 3: Massachusetts Reported Case and Death Statistics
7 Day Trailing Average
October 7, 2020
Statistic   Current 7 Days Ago 4 Weeks Ago
Total Deaths Including Suspected   14 16 12
Total  Deaths Confirmed Only   14 15 12
Deaths in Long-Term Facilities (All Cases)   12 10 7
Percent from Long-Term Care   86% 67% 56%
Total Cases Including Suspected   625 515 289
Total Confirmed Cases   588 478 281



3 replies on “Massachusetts Data Update October 7, 2020”

So are you saying we have stabilized the spread of the virus in Massachusetts but at a higher level? Can you tell based on numbers where the biggest increases are? Can you speculate why the rate has gone up? More importantly do you agree with some “experts” that we need roll back openings to earlier levels? Finally, if you compare Massachusetts to other states how are we doing with Covid?

Several responses. First, I don’t know if we’ve stabilized the spread, it just looks based on the numbers that we might have. Time will tell. My post on community spread last week is out of date a bit now, but it details the cities and towns with the largest impact on the state’s numbers ( I’ve responded before that I think the rate has gone up primarily because we’ve become more lax in general since Labor Day (covid fatigue), but I don’t know, and it can’t be determined from numbers alone. There is absolutely no evidence to support the notion that it is coming from colleges and universities. I am not an expert at all, just a number cruncher, so really can’t comment on whether it makes sense to roll back openings. In terms of how we’re doing relative to other states, the best overall source imo is the NY Times covid tracker, which has us 13th best in per capita cases over the past two weeks, and 18th worst in per capita deaths over the past two weeks. We continue to do a terrible job on controlling deaths in long-term care facilities. Also rt live has our effective reproduction rate (which measures how the disease is spreading) at 1.19, 8th worst in the country.

So, on balance we’re middling at this point. Relatively low per capita cases, but increasing, and continued terrible on deaths.

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