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Weekly Undergrad Positivity Rate Falls to .57 Percent, BC Cautions Students as Finals Approach

Boston College reported three new undergraduate cases of COVID-19 out of 1,579 undergraduate tests since the Thursday update of its COVID-19 dashboard, a positivity rate of .19 percent.

 Thirty-five undergraduates have now tested positive last week out of 6,094 tests. 

Friday’s update to the dashboard brought last week’s undergraduate positivity rate to .57 percent, down from the Thursday update’s positivity rate of .71 percent, and a drop from the previous week’s positivity rate of .84 percent.

Around half of BC’s undergraduate population opted to return home for the Thanksgiving break last week and will complete the remainder of the semester remotely, according to Senior Associate Director of University Communications Ed Hayward. 

“Approximately 4,300 students remain at BC following Thanksgiving,” Hayward said in an email to The Heights on Friday.

Fifty-four undergraduates were in isolation as of Friday, with 36 in isolation housing and 18 isolating at home. A total of 360 undergraduates have recovered so far this year. 

In an email to the BC community on Friday, Associate Vice President for Student Engagement and Formation Tom Mogan encouraged students to continue to adhere to health and safety protocols to ensure that they can finish the semester and enjoy the break with minimal disruption. 

“For students who live farther from campus, the choices you make in the next few weeks may have an impact on your ability to travel home for the semester break,” Mogan wrote. “Any student who tests positive or is designated a close contact of someone who tests positive over the course of the next few weeks will risk being placed into isolation or quarantine past our closing date of December 21, 2020.”

On Wednesday, the Center for Disease Control shortened its recommended quarantine period for people who have possibly been exposed to COVID-19 from 14 to 10 days, or seven days depending on an individual’s test results and symptoms while quarantining. Currently, the University requires community members who have been contract-traced to quarantine for 14 days. 

“At this time, the University is awaiting guidance from state officials based on their response to the new recommendations issued by the Center for Disease Control,” Hayward said.

According to the Commonwealth’s weekly dashboard, Newton and Boston remain in the moderate-risk category for COVID-19 transmission.

 Newton reported an average of 20.2 daily cases per 100,000 residents between Nov. 15 and Nov. 28—up from 9.1 in the previous two-week period. Boston reported 31.7 daily cases per 100,000 residents during the same period, slightly above the prior two-week incidence rate of 31.5.

Massachusetts, which only officially recommends that people get tested if they have COVID-19 symptoms, have come into contact with someone who tested positive, or live in a high-transmission risk community, reported a seven-day positivity rate of 5.34 percent on Sunday. Boston reported a positivity rate of 5.1 percent between Nov. 22 and Nov. 28. 

BC has performed 124,340 total tests this year, with 440 positives. These numbers include 92,175 undergraduate tests and 414 undergraduate cases of COVID-19. 

Maggi DiPatri / Heights Editor

December 7, 2020