News, On Campus, Top Story, Coronavirus Updates

BC Records Highest Number of Students in Isolation, Cites Student Behavior

Boston College reported 17 new undergraduate cases of COVID-19 out of the 2,257 tests performed, a positivity rate of .75 percent, in its Thursday update of its COVID-19 dashboard. Thirty undergraduates tested positive in the half-week of testing prior to the Thanksgiving Break, the week after the University recorded its second-highest number of undergraduate cases in a week with 64 students testing positive. 

Eighty-seven undergraduates were in isolation housing as of Thursday after testing positive for COVID-19, the largest number of the semester, surpassing the Sept. 17 number when 85 students were in isolation. 

Back in early September, when BC had nearly the same number of students in isolation housing during a COVID-19 case spike, Newton Mayor Ruthanne Fuller said that the University was almost at capacity for its isolation and quarantine housing. 

Of the 87 undergraduates in isolation as of Thursday, 60 are in BC isolation housing and 27 are isolating at home.

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. Associate Vice President for Student Engagement and Formation Tom Mogan said in a Friday email to students, however, that the case increase is “directly attributable to the choices some students have made with regard to social activities.”

Mogan cited students’ dining off campus as a primary reason for the increase in positive cases and number of students needing to quarantine, and asked students to limit table group sizes and to refrain from “table hopping”—rotating seats among several groups during an outing. Mogan said that table hopping violates the spirit of state regulations for restaurants and the Eagles Care Pledge.

The University declined to provide information for the total number of students currently in quarantine after coming into contact with someone who has tested positive.

Thursday’s update to the dashboard brought the weekly undergraduate positivity rate to .67 percent, up from .58 percent last Tuesday. The seven-day average undergraduate positivity rate fell to .63 percent, down from .73 percent on Tuesday.

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.

Boston reported an average of 33.9 daily cases per 100,000 residents between Nov. 8 and Nov. 21—putting Boston in the moderate transmission risk category—while Newton reported a two-week incidence rate over the same period of 15.3—putting the city in the low-risk category. 

The University reported in its Thursday update that it had conducted 115,598 total tests this semester, with 389 total positive cases, through Friday. These numbers include 85,776 undergraduate tests, with 369 positive undergraduate cases.

November 30, 2020 3:00 p.m. Correction: The sentence about the incidence rate of COVID-19 at Boston College has been removed because it misstated the undergraduate incidence rate as community incidence rate. 

Featured Image by Ikram Ali / Heights Editor

November 30, 2020