436 COVID-19 cases at colleges across Massachusetts

Health officials keeping close eye on COVID-19 clusters on college campuses

BOSTON — Health officials are keeping a close eye on COVID-19 clusters at college campuses across the commonwealth. According to public data, there have been 436 coronavirus cases at 42 colleges and universities across Massachusetts since reopening.

Boston College, which has seen some of the highest numbers, struggled to contain a recent outbreak. On Saturday, Newton Mayor Ruthanne Fuller called on BC to increase testing.

A BC spokesman told Boston 25 News that the school’s numbers improved significantly on Thursday and Friday.

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“Our testing strategy calls for aggressively testing individuals identified through contact tracing, which will invariably lead to spikes in cases, but will help to limit the spread of COVID-19 on campus. We have had 104 total cases since testing began in August, including 22 students who have fully recovered,” said Jack Dunn in a statement.

Boston College tested students when they arrived on campus but had only been spot testing asymptomatic people.

Other schools in the Boston area have been testing students multiple times a week. Northeastern has required on-campus students be tested twice a week.

“You could test even more frequently than twice a week to catch the disease as soon as possible,” said Dr. Michael Misialek, Associate Chair of Pathology at Newton-Wellesley Hospital. “We need to focus on frequent testing.”

Northeastern and BU, which has been testing on-campus students three times a week, are providing results in 24 hours.

Dr. Michael Misialek said he believes rapid tests that provide results in just an hour could be a beneficial school strategy down the line.

“Right now we have the advantage of nice weather. Things are going to move indoors and we’re going to have to keep close track of social distancing,” added Misialek.

Earlier this month, Northeastern suspended 11 first year students for congregating in a room at the Westin Hotel, which is being used as temporary housing. Attorney Brett Joshpe, hired by the families of two of the students, is calling the school’s policies “illogical” and “unclear”.

He said all of the first-year students tested negative for COVID-19 multiple times. Joshpe claims the students were watching a basketball game in a room with their masks on.

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