Tufts reports 351 COVID-19 cases in spring semester

Students are pictured walking into the COVID-19 testing center. Ava Iannuccillo/ The Tufts Daily

Medford/Somerville campus

A total of 351 COVID-19 cases were reported on the Medford/Somerville campus since the Daily started tracking the number of cases on Jan. 16.

The number represents an increase in new COVID-19 cases reported this semester than in the fall. Prior to Jan. 16, a total of 202 cases were reported on the Medford/Somerville campus.

Students accounted for 88% of the COVID-19 cases reported since Jan. 16; 309 students were recorded as testing positive for COVID-19, while 42 members of the University’s staff, faculty and affiliates were reported as testing positive for the virus.

An average of 3.28 cases per day and 22.96 cases per week were reported on the Medford/Somerville campus this semester.

The biggest spikes in new COVID-19 cases recorded on campus occurred in late January, early February and late March. The highest number of COVID-19 cases recorded in one day was 21, which occurred on Jan. 21. The highest seven-day average number of cases reported per day was 9.71, which occurred on Jan. 31.

The University entered the semester — which began on Feb. 1, following a late January arrival quarantine period  — with similar restrictions to those that were initially placed in response to a November increase in COVID-19 cases. These November adjustments included an increase in COVID-19 testing from twice a week to once every two days.

Many on-campus restrictions were relaxed in mid-February in response to a decreasing number of COVID-19 cases following the arrival quarantine uptick. The university returned the testing frequency from once every two days to twice a week on March 1.

The second increase in COVID-19 cases, which happened in late March, culminated in a seven-day average high of 7.43 cases reported per day on Mar. 25. The University issued a warning to the Tufts community on Mar. 26, reminding students to follow COVID-19 guidelines in order to avoid another tightening of restrictions.

The number of new cases reported per day saw a decrease in early April. The seven-day average number of new cases reported per day reached a semester low of 0.14 on April 21.

Twenty COVID-19 cases on the Medford/Somerville campus were retroactively deemed to be inconclusive on Feb. 10, a finding identified by the Daily. The adjustment was made after the Broad Institute — which supplies rapid COVID-19 tests to Tufts and other Universities in the Boston area — made changes to their procedures for analyzing submitted COVID-19 test samples.

According to Tufts’ COVID-19 dashboard, a total of 529 members of the Medford/Somerville campus have tested positive for the virus since Aug. 3, 2020. This number was adjusted to account for 24 cases that were retroactively deemed to be inconclusive. The Daily was unable to determine when 4 of these cases were found to be retroactively inconclusive.

Four hundred and thirty-eight students and 91 faculty/staff/affiliates have tested positive for COVID-19 since Aug. 3, 2020, according to the university’s COVID-19 dashboard.

This data suggests that 5.71% of students and 4.61% of workers on the Medford/Somerville campus have contracted COVID-19 since testing began.

On April 25, in an email to the Tufts community, University Infection Control Health Director Michael Jordan announced that the university had acquired doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. They administered the doses to students, faculty, staff and affiliates in a Gantcher Center clinic on April 28, 29 and 30.

Jordan announced on May 4 that the University would also be partnering with the Cambridge Health Alliance to turn the Gantcher Center into a public vaccination site for all eligible Massachusetts residents. The clinics will be held on May 5, 6, 12 and 13.


Grafton campus

Grafton — which is the smallest Tufts campus — reported the lowest number of COVID-19 cases out of the three campuses this semester. Thirty individuals tested positive since Jan. 16, 13 of whom were students and 17 of whom were faculty, staff and affiliates.

Students made up for 43.33% of cases on the Grafton campus since Jan. 16. This was the lowest recorded proportion of student-to-staff infections out of any of Tufts’ campuses.

The Grafton campus averaged 0.28 cases per day and 1.96 positive cases per week since Jan. 16.

The largest spike in new COVID-19 cases on the Grafton campus occurred in mid-April when the school reported eight new COVID-19 cases in a single week.

Since Jan. 16, the campus also recorded 88 days with zero new COVID-19 cases, a record among any of Tufts’ campuses. This meant that the campus recorded no new cases for 82.24% of the days this semester. 

Twenty-nine cases were reported on the Grafton campus from Aug. 3, 2020 to Jan. 16, meaning 59 individuals tested positive for the virus on the Grafton campus since testing began.

In total, 4.67% of students and 5.56% of faculty, staff, affiliates tested positive for COVID-19 this academic year.

No cases on the Grafton campus were retroactively deemed to be inconclusive, according to the Daily’s reporting.


Boston campus

Fifty-two individuals tested positive for COVID-19 on the Boston campus since Jan. 16.

Thirty-two of the individuals who tested positive were students and 20 were faculty, staff or affiliates. Two cases were retroactively deemed inconclusive, one on Jan. 23 and the other on Feb. 10.

Students made up for 61.54% of cases on the Boston campus since Jan. 16. The campus averaged 0.49 cases per day and 3.4 cases per week since then.

The largest spike in new COVID-19 cases on the Boston campus occurred on Feb. 8 when the school reported 13 new COVID-19 cases in a single week.

The Boston campus recorded 76 days with zero new COVID-19 cases since Jan. 16. This meant that the campus recorded no new cases for 71.03% of the days this semester. 

One hundred and ten cases were reported on the Boston campus from Aug. 3, 2020 to Jan. 16. According to the university’s COVID-19 dashboard, 160 individuals have tested positive for the virus since testing began. By far, the majority of the cases on the Boston campus were reported last fall.

In total, 5.07% of students and 3.97% of faculty, staff and affiliates tested positive for COVID-19 this academic year.


Editor’s note: This article is an updated version of the article, “Tufts reports 348 COVID-19 cases in spring semester,” which appeared in print in the Commencement edition of The Tufts Daily. 


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