Data Update

Massachusetts Data Update: September 21, 2020

My apologies. I slightly re-injured my back about a week ago, and think it might be in part because I had spent time hunched over a computer doing research and writing this blog. So, I’ve curtailed posts to these periodic data updates for now.

Very little has changed with regard to testing since the last update several days ago. The positivity rate for both those newly tested and for repeat testers seems to have stabilized  – about 2.0-2.2% for those newly tested, and 0.2-0.3% for repeat testers. However, the percentage of tests given to repeat testers continues to gradually increase, and is now almost 70% of all tests. Testing in aggregate is leveling off.

Table 1: Massachusetts Testing Statistics
7 Day  Trailing Average
September 21, 2020
Testing Statistic   Current 7 Days Ago 4 Weeks Ago
Test Positivity Rate (Individuals)   2.1% 2.2% 1.4%
Test Positivity Rate (Include Suspected)   2.2% 2.4% 1.5%
Test Positivity Rate (All Tests)   0.8% 0.9% 1.1%
Test Positivity Rate (Newly Tested)   2.1% 2.2% 1.4%
Test Positivity Rate (Repeat Testers)   0.2% 0.2% 0.6%
Percentage Repeat Testers   69.7% 67.5% 36.2%
Newly Tested (Lagged 1 Week)   14,890 17,957 16,655
All Tests (Lagged 1 Week)   45,880 44,448 24,258


Unfortunately, hospitalizations are on the rise, with the 7-day average increasing to a level last seen exactly one month ago, on August 21st. The same is true for ICU patients, and the number of intubated patients (7 day averages) is the highest since the beginning of September.

Table 2: Massachusetts Hospitalization Statistics
7 Day Trailing Averages
September 21, 2020
Hospitalization Statistic   Current 7 Days Ago 4 Weeks Ago
Covid Patients Hospitalized   353 328 339
Covid Patients in ICU   63 58 61
Covid Patients Intubed   27 22 22
New Confirmed Patients   22 18 15
Percent ICU / Hospitalized   18% 18% 18%
Percent Intubated / ICU   44% 37% 36%


Unfortunately, the percentage of deaths from long-term care facilities has moved back up to 72% after dipping for a few weeks.  Massachusetts clearly does not yet have this under control.  Although case counts are not the best indicator of how widespread Covid is in the community, the 7-day average of confirmed cases (and the number of confirmed and suspected cases) hit its highest level since the beginning of June.  Some of this is from increased testing, but positivity rates for those newly tested had been under 2% from the end of June until earlier this month. 

Table 3: Massachusetts Reported Case and Death Statistics
7 Day  Trailing Average
September 21, 2020
Statistic   Current 7 Days Ago 4 Weeks Ago
Total Deaths Including Suspected   14 12 14
Total  Deaths Confirmed Only   14 12 14
Deaths in Long-Term Facilities (All Cases)   10 7 9
Percent from Long-Term Care   72% 59% 68%
Total Cases Including Suspected   388 328 269
Total Confirmed Cases   369 299 253


4 replies on “Massachusetts Data Update: September 21, 2020”

Thx for the update. If we can get thru the Labor Day and return-to-school impact (K thru college) without a significant spike, that will hopefully mean we’re in a somewhat stable phase.

I hope your back is doing better.

Okay, if I look at the dashboard today….am I not seeing a 3% positivity rate for first time testers? If so, how is Baker going to justify another shutdown in the weeks or months ahead after he’s been using the weighted average and convincing the public, who doesn’t know any better, that it’s all been “rosy”? Am I missing something?

Thanks once again.

You are correct, however I don’t think that is a good number to focus on, since it is just the test results that are in for one day – September 23 – 60 cases on 2031 tests. The 7 day trailing positivity rate for newly tested people is 2.4% today, which I think is a better way to get the trend since there are many more test results reported over the prior 7 days. I personally don’t think Baker will go backwards at this point, because he has too much invested in the reopening. I think he will just hand wave if there is a second wave or significant uptick (and we have a long way to go before that) and perhaps explain what is actually happening with cases and individuals to justify any reversals. But it is a bit surprising, because I’m sure he does know what is going on. If I were him, I’d be a bit more cautious extolling our great numbers (they are very good, but not heading in the right direction).

My wife said the same thing about him not going back.

As an aside and perhaps related-If the IMHE comes even close to it’s latest estimate of 387k by January, this country will have some soul searching to do about how it treats its most vulnerable. It’s apparent that soul searching hasn’t happened yet. ‘Nuff said.

And thanks

Leave a Reply