News, On Campus, Top Story, Coronavirus Updates

Seventy-Six BC Students in Isolation Ahead of Thanksgiving Holiday

The University reported 20 new undergraduate cases of COVID-19 out of the 2,480 undergraduate tests it conducted since the Saturday update of its COVID-19 dashboard, a positivity rate of .81 percent. Sixty-four undergraduates tested positive last week, the second-highest number Boston College has seen this semester, surpassed only by the outbreak during the second week of the semester when BC reported 73 cases.

Tuesday’s update to last week’s dashboard brought the weekly undergraduate positivity rate to .72 percent, up from .66 percent on Saturday. The seven-day average undergraduate positivity rate rose slightly to .73 percent, up from .70 percent on Saturday.

Seventy-six undergraduates were in isolation housing as of Tuesday after testing positive for COVID-19, the largest number since Sept. 17, when 85 students were in isolation. Newton Mayor Ruthanne Fuller said during the outbreak in early September that the University was almost at capacity for its isolation and quarantine housing.

When asked how many students are currently in quarantine, Senior Associate Director of University Communications Ed Hayward declined to give a number.

“Very few institutions release quarantine numbers,” Hayward said. “We don’t release them for a range of reasons. We provide data on our testing initiative, as well as individuals in isolation and those who have recovered. Those are the accepted metrics.”

Northeastern University, Providence College—both of which BC compares itself to in its COVID-19 releases—and Tufts University release the number of students in quarantine. Boston University, Notre Dame University, and University of Massachusetts-Amherst—all of which BC also compares itself to in the releases—do not release their quarantine numbers.

Students who tested positive last week and those testing positive this week, as well as those they list as close contacts, must isolate or quarantine through the Thanksgiving holiday, according to an email from Associate Vice President for Student Engagement and Formation Tom Mogan.

Of the 76 undergraduates in isolation as of Tuesday, 57 are in BC isolation housing and 19 are isolating at home.

The University reported in its Tuesday update that it had conducted 112,437 total tests this semester, with 371 total positive cases, through Friday. These numbers include 83,519 undergraduate tests, with 352 positive undergraduate cases.

The University said in a Tuesday release that the rise in cases reflects the increases in communities and institutions of higher education across the country. The seven-day Massachusetts positivity rate came in at 3.02 percent on Tuesday.

The Commonwealth’s seven-day rate, however, is not an equal comparison to BC’s seven-day rate, given that it only recommends that people get tested if they have COVID-19 symptoms or have come into contact with someone who tested positive. BC conducts asymptomatic surveillance testing, a group that is less likely to test positive.

Boston’s positivity rate for the week of Nov. 9 through Nov. 15 was 5.6 percent. According to the Thursday update of the Commonwealth’s weekly dashboard, Boston is in the moderate-risk category for COVID-19, while Newton falls into the low-risk category.

Featured Image by Maggie DiPatri / Heights Editor

November 25, 2020

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