A Tufts student has tested positive for COVID-19, becoming the first university affiliate with a presumptive positive case, according to an email sent by Executive Vice President Mike Howard to the Tufts community on Thursday evening.
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) informed the university Thursday of the presumptive positive after the student was tested for the coronavirus by Tufts Health Service on Tuesday.
Howard announced in the email that members of the Tufts community who may have had contact with the student will be contacted by the Medford Board of Health and will be given information on self-quarantine practices.
Shortly after receiving the test results, the student said in an interview with the Daily this evening that their condition has greatly improved since Tuesday.
The student may have contracted the virus during a brief visit to the United Kingdom for a high school reunion last weekend that included alumni from various European countries. The student returned to campus on Saturday, March 7 and attended an on-campus party with several dozen individuals that night.
The student attended two classes on March 9 before beginning to feel ill that evening. However, the student did not visit any of the Tufts Dining locations. They went to Health Service after coming down with a fever on Tuesday morning, where a test for influenza came back negative.
Health Service then contacted DPH to ask for a COVID-19 test. The student waited over three hours before being tested, after which they were quarantined in an on-campus suite.
The student said they are more concerned about others who may have contracted the virus and who may not have the same resources to cope with it.
“I’m more stressed for the people around me than my concern for myself, because I’m just kind of sick,” they said.
Four Tufts students who lived in an off-campus apartment with the quarantined student have not yet been tested for the virus but have been in self-isolation since Wednesday morning. Those students attended their classes on Monday and Tuesday and attended numerous university events.
The student said that public health officials questioned them extensively about people with whom they had been in contact since returning on Saturday and added that the Tufts administration has been very accommodating and supportive throughout the student’s illness.
The student is one of 13 new presumptive positive cases announced by the DPH today, bringing the total number of cases in Massachusetts to 108.
This is a developing story. The Daily will provide updates when more information is available.