Data Update

Massachusetts Data Update September 1, 2020

Massachusetts appears to be in Covid equilibrium. Test positivity rates have declined somewhat over the past four weeks, but remain the highest in New England. Testing has ramped up in the past month (perhaps in part because students and some teachers are returning to school at all levels).

An interesting statistic to note is the shift in the composition of those being tested.  Over the past week, almost half of tests performed have been for people who have been tested before.  While this seems to be partly an artifact of more rapid turnaround time for repeat testers, there clearly appears to be increased emphasis on preventative testing. In fact, over the last four weeks the number of repeat tests has increased by almost 300%, compared to an increase of  57% for people being tested for the first time. The shift to  repeat testers are in part the driver of the low overall test positivity rate (currently 1.0%) as they have a much lower positivity rate (currently 0.3%) than people tested for the first time (currently 1.5%). Most of them are being tested asymptomatically.

Massachusetts Testing Statistics
7 Day Trailing Average Results
September 1, 2020
Testing Statistic   Current 7 Days Ago 4 Weeks Ago
Test Positivity Rate (Individuals)   1.6% 1.5% 1.9%
Test Positivity Rate (Include Suspected)   1.7% 1.7% 2.5%
Test Positivity Rate (All Tests)   1.0% 1.1% 1.6%
Test Positivity Rate (New Tests)   1.6% 1.5% 1.9%
Test Positivity Rate (Repeat Testers)   0.3% 0.5% 1.0%
Percentage Repeat Testers   48.5% 39.4% 29.5%
New Tests (Lagged 1 Week)   19,426 17,453 12,354
All Tests (Lagged 1 Week)   32,038 25,356 17,138

Hospitalization figures have remained stubbornly consistent for over a month.  On July 22, there was a large drop in the number of Covid hospitalizations from 532 to 351, and they have remained fairly steady since then.  (The large drop may a result of the federally-mandated  switch in hospital reporting from the CDC to HHS). 

The number of ICU and intubated patients have followed roughly the same pattern – there were 49 patients in the ICU and 29 intubated patients in hospitals on July 23, essentially the same as today.  The number of patients newly admitted to the hospital has remained steady of the past six weeks as well.  While covid-19 is well under control in Massachusetts, it remains nowhere near being extinguished.

Massachusetts Hospitalization Statistics

September 1, 2020


Hospitalization Statistic



7 Days Ago

4 Weeks Ago


Covid Patients Hospitalized





Covid Patients in ICU





Covid Patients Intubed






7-Day Trailing Average New Patients





Not surprisingly, death statistics in Massachusetts roughly track  hospitalization and critcal care statistics. There has been little change in the number of reported deaths (confirmed and suspected) over the past month.  The 7 day trailing number of reported deaths hit 16 on July 16, and has been in a tight range since then.  This reinforces the case that we are in equilibrium.

What remains striking is the high percentage of deaths in long-term care facilities, which has been almost 65% over the course of the pandemic in Massachusetts (and almost 72% of deaths since June 1).  There is no sign that this troubling trend is abating.

The case statistics are a function of both testing and test positivity rates.  The number of cases (confirmed and suspected) of Covid remains high, but this is primarily a function of increased testing, as positivity rates are at or near the all time low.

Massachusetts Reported Case and Death Statistics

7 Day Average Trailing Results

September 1, 2020





7 Days Ago

4 Weeks Ago


Total Deaths





Deaths in Long-Term Facilities





Percent from Long-Term Care






Total Cases Including Suspected





One reply on “Massachusetts Data Update September 1, 2020”

This is a very lucid analysis, which to this reader illuminates how the state is obscuring a small yet definite increase in cases and positivity rate among individuals by their emphasis on the positivity rate among all tests.

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