New data released by Boston College tracking the number of COVID-19 cases on campus has revealed a troubling rise in positive tests during the past week.
As of September 9, 46 of 1,228 undergraduates tested this week have yielded positive results. The 3% positive test rate is up from 0.6% last week, when 26 out of 3,837 undergraduates tested were positive. 68 undergraduate students are currently in the University's isolation housing, and 81 have tested positive since BC began administering tests on August 16.
A recent article from the Boston Globe reported 13 positive tests for COVID-19 among the 41 members of BC’s swimming and diving teams. BC has been adamant regarding its decision to bring its athletics programs as close to normalcy as possible, even as other schools in the area exercise caution with their teams.
Though BC has acknowledged the swim team outbreak and has temporarily halted all swim and dive team activities, plans regarding practices and games for the majority of other sports have not changed. Additionally, BC has not revealed if any other positive cases among undergraduates have been from members of athletic teams, even as field hockey, volleyball, women’s soccer, and football teams prepare to play full schedules this season. BC Football recieves $30 million from its participation in the ACC each year.
A disease’s rate of infection is often referred to as its “R-value,” or Rt. Massachusetts at large has an Rt of 1.02, meaning each person who contracts COVID-19 will likely pass it to one other individual. Plugging in BC’s testing statistics, the R of undergraduates on campus comes in at approximately 1.62 – meaning each infection leads to almost two more. This growth is not linear, but exponential; infections would, if this rate continues, nearly double each week.
Life on campus has been greatly altered to try and mitigate the spread of COVID-19, with undergraduates juggling online classes with new self-check protocols, mandatory mask-wearing, and enforced distancing in classrooms, dining halls, and the gym.
UNC at Chapel Hill and Notre Dame both saw increases in COVID-19 infections following their openings, but their responses differed dramatically. UNC decided to reverse course and go fully online. Notre Dame, meanwhile, allowed students to remain on campus while full-time virtual classes were instated, and recently restarted in-person instruction following a dramatic decrease in cases. Rev. John Jenkins, C.S.C., the President of Notre Dame, called their success, “one of the great comebacks in Notre Dame history.”
Boston College has not announced any changes to the testing or distancing procedures already in place on campus.