Coronavirus

Here’s why COVID-19 data for Massachusetts is inconsistent this week

The number of cases reported Wednesday is the highest ever, but there is a slight catch. Also, the state won't report data on Thanksgiving.

A box full of COVID-19 tests at Massachusetts General Hospital earlier this month. Erin Clark / The Boston Globe

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Massachusetts confirmed 3,224 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, which is the highest ever reported in the commonwealth. The previous record (and the only other time the state reported over 3,000 cases in a day) was April 23, during the height of the spring surge that slammed the Northeast.

Massachusetts also confirmed 53 deaths, the highest since mid-June.

But there’s a slight catch to Wednesday’s numbers. The update was delayed because of a technological issue that interrupted the data download, and it turns out that the numbers reflect a 30-hour period instead of 24.

Despite the discrepancy, the figures from Wednesday still maintain the alarming surge that has hit the state in the last month after a relatively tame summer.

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It’s part of a trend across the country: While Massachusetts hospitalization levels are still nowhere near those in the spring, the virus is the worst it’s ever been nationwide, with hospitalization rates nearly 50% higher than in both the spring and summer spikes. Daily deaths are not far behind.

It’s a worrisome pattern right before the start of the holiday season, and Thanksgiving itself will further complicate data coming out of Massachusetts.

On Thanksgiving Day, the state will skip publishing both the daily update and the regular weekly report, which usually comes out on Thursdays. Friday’s update will include COVID-19 data from both Thursday and Friday, along with the weekly report. It’s possible the figures could be twice as large as expected on Friday.

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