This Week in COVID-19: Tufts breaks weekly record case number; students isolate in Homewood Suites

Tufts experienced one of its most unpredictable periods of the pandemic last week, as cases soared to record-breaking highs on the Medford/Somerville campus. Oddly, Tufts’ spike in cases came as coronavirus numbers dropped across the county, the state and the country as a whole.

The university reported its second highest number of raw cases in one day on Feb. 15, with 67 new cases on the Medford/Somerville campus. Tufts’ weekly average reached an all-time high on Friday, with an average of about 46 students testing positive per day. That metric was at 19 students the week before.

The highest number of cases reported in one week throughout the pandemic occurred when 321 cases were reported in the week leading up to Friday.

Despite this daunting rise in cases, there have been signs of improvement over the past few days. While a whopping 187 cases were reported from Feb. 14 to Feb. 16, 80 cases were reported from Thursday to Saturday. The 17 new cases reported on Saturday also mark the lowest number of raw cases reported in a single day since Feb. 7.

Still, the weekly average number of cases remains high, with an average of 44 students testing positive per day as of Saturday. Only time will tell if cases will plateau or rise again over the upcoming week.

With the pandemic’s positive trend beyond the Medford/Somerville community and on campus earlier in the semester, Tufts relaxed COVID-19 policies for all sports teams and clubs over the past several weeks. Athletes no longer need to take rapid COVID-19 tests on competition days, which was required last spring. Spectators who are vaccinated and masked are now allowed to attend indoor varsity games like basketball and lacrosse.

A total of 144 individuals were in isolation on Saturday. The Mods remain occupied and many students have been transported to the Homewood Suites Hotel in Arlington while they are sick due to capacity. Students in the Mods receive two meals a day for brunch and dinner from Tufts Dining and are required to be in isolation for at least five full days or until they no longer exhibit symptoms. The same requirements apply for students in the Homewood Suites, though those in the hotel receive two UberEats vouchers a day, are transported to their destination via a Tufts shuttle and may room with a COVID-19-positive Tufts student.

Although COVID-19 cases continue to decline at the city level, Somerville residents with disabilities face social and medical challenges as a result of the pandemic. From delayed operations in health care facilities to inadequate outdoor dining setups for immunocompromised individuals, COVID-19 continues to have a domino effect on Tufts’ host communities.

For more details, visit the Daily’s COVID-19 dashboard.


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