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So far, no Covid-19 outbreaks at local colleges; rates below statewide average

A number of local colleges and universities are posting daily or weekly Covid-19 testing results; to date, the numbers show much lower infection rates among students who have come to Boston even if that means taking classes in their dorm rooms and prohibitions against parties.

Boston University, for example, reported 8 positive Covid-19 tests out of 3,930 given to students and staff on Wednesday - an infection rate of 0.2%, compared to a statewide average of around 1%. Since July 1, the school has reported a total of 55 positive tests - a rate of 0.13%. It currently has some 24 students in isolation dorm rooms.

Northeastern, meanwhile, reported 5 positive results out of 5,406 tests given Wednesday - a rate of 0.09%. Northeastern reports only 20 positive results out of 36,240 tests given since it began screening earlier this summer.

Harvard reports one graduate student tested positive yesterday, out of 1,665 total students and staffers tested. Since June 1, Harvard reports 28 positive tests out of 28,114 tests given - 3 undergraduates, 11 grad students and 14 professors or other staff.

MIT reported 3 positive results out of 2,836 tests given yesterday - a rate of 0.11%.

There are no standards for how colleges have to report cases. Tufts, for example, does not break down results by date - but shows 10 positive results out of 15,509 tests given across its Medford, Chinatown, Grafton and Museum of Fine Arts campuses. It does not say when its testing began.

Boston College reports 18 positive results out of 3,510 tests given since Aug. 31, and that it currently has 24 student in isolation - 10 in college quarantine housing and 14 at home.

Several other schools that are posting numbers, including Babson, Emerson, Wellesley and Wentworth also reported low positivity rates.



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This is a very good thing but very few are moving in this year. Hardly any rental trucks near Mission Hill so far this year. The roof lights are back on though... i expect large parties


Anecdotally, I've heard more college students have moved back to Amherst/Hadley than was expected given UMass being fully remote. I get it though, I'd rather live with my friends at age 21 than in my parents house. We'll see how it goes.

A story I expect to read somewhere soon is 'these roommates decided to all go to Key West for the fall semester at BU and learn remotely.' Feels like a Boston Magazine article given the tacitly assumed wealth involved.


I just moved from Glenville Ave in Allston (a block from the Harvard Ave green line stop) and it was the usual september 1 chaos


It's possible there may be more staggering of move-ins this year, if students are coming from their parents' homes and their school is remote so they don't have to be local by a certain date.

I dunno, I’m in the Oak Square/Brighton area by BC, and the moving vans were ubiquitous, and there are TONS of kids out and about.

(bringing students back) I have felt somewhat reassured in seeing "mask compliance" among newly returned college students - I would estimate above 90%, far above the rate among construction workers, public works employees, and others who I see outside. I am outside everyday on the borders of the Northeastern campus and in the Symphony neighborhood. We'll see what happens this weekend in terms of group gatherings.


Weekly and cumulative data, for undergraduates and for faculty/staff/students as a whole:

I knew there was a big school I left out! Added them in.

Adam, FYI, the numbers you cite are just for this week. A little farther down the page are the cumulative totals, going back to Aug. 16: 12,329 undergraduate tests with 27 positives (and 21,318 "community" tests -- guess that means faculty and staff as well as students, undergrad and grad -- with 29 positives).

Yes, it sounds like the colleges are doing well by other measures. But the percent of positive tests in a population where everyone is being tested every week is always going to be lower than the percent of positive tests in that same population if they're only tested when they have a reason to (symptoms, exposure to someone who tested positive, etc.). I would be very worried if the testing were finding the same rates of positives as among the general population who are only tested when they have a reason to want testing.

Also, the percentages are artificially lowered by being given as percent of tests given rather than percent of people tested. Each student is being tested multiple times, whereas in the general population most people aren't having multiple tests over short time frames.

In other words, comparing positivity rates from the university testing as reported on their websites to the positivity rates given by the state dashboard is comparing apples to oranges. It will be more useful to see how many/what percentage of students at each school test positive each week or month and how much that increases over time.


So would you prefer people walking around who have it but don’t realize since they were not mandatorily tested?

I heard parties last night, and sooner or later, there will be an outbreak


Moving Day was literally less than 3 days ago. We're just barely on the cusp of the incubation period. Let me know what their numbers look like in 7-10 days.


But not all college Moving Days take place at once. For example, from what I understand, BC undergrads started arriving on campus almost two weeks ago.

Every holiday since April people have posted messages like the above, speculating without reason that a major wave is imminent.

And yet, there has been no major 2nd wave for Boston. The college students are not super-spreading (many have been back for 1-2 weeks) and they won't be major spreaders with the amount of testing and containment that is happening.

4th of July BBQs did not lead to major COVID events in the area. Nor did the nice weather, bad weather, and just about every other, "Just wait till..." event people have been predicting.


In a few months. When everyone is indoors again. Your posts defending the area Universities make me think you are a Higher Ed Admin. I work at one of these Universities and things are not as rosy as you imply AT ALL.

That party boat (Provincetown II) that everybody was up in arms about - I don't think that has been shown to be a superspreader event.


There is a natural respiratory virus cycle that we see in the flu infection surveillance data each year. When doing short-term studies of air pollution effects, the flu season has to be estimated by applying splines and smoothers to surveilance data and accounted for in attribution.

We will probably see an uptick in November - January time frame with the possibility of a more serious wave in February and March, unless current distancing is able to keep it under control.


But there's no reason to think College students are specifically the cause of that wave as people had been predicting. If anything, the colleges will slow the spread with the mandatory testing and isolation procedures.


Don't count your chickens before they hatch, but hope for the best.

It's possible a second wave will come although the hardest hit areas in April (NYC, Boston) remain at low levels even as the states open up and people resume many pre-pandemic activities.

Why there hasn't been a major reoccurrence is the subject of much scientific debate. It's entirely possible there will be another wave or at least some regional hot spots.

But what can be said is that the Boston colleges are doing all the right things to prevent students from being the source of another faire up. Extensive testing, isolation when needed, inherent social distancing in classrooms, etc are going to greatly reduce the chances of an uncontrolled spread. This is true even if some students party irresponsibly.

let's hope things continue apace

How are so many of this "just wait till 7-10 days from now" crowd STILL around? You've been saying this since MAY....

The student return increases our population. Already students are taking the T making social distancing tough. I was near MIT earlier this week and shocked to see a sharp increase in foot traffic. I did observe that mask compliance amongst students was much better then the local pop.

Since the average age of Covid death in MA is 85, the colleges would do best to focus on adult learners, especially those WW II and Korean War vets who might be returning to finish up a degree they started years ago. As for the traditonal college age group of 18-22, there's a far greater chance of being murdered or maimed in the City of Boston, especially with at least seven shot and four stabbed in multiple incidents in the city overnight. Let's not get too distracted by Covid. The hospitals are empty and the doomsday scenario of healthy, young people dying never materialized.

young people, especially those under 30, never come down with Covid-19, however. Healthy young people under 30 have come down with the Covid-19 virus, died from it, and many of those who've survived Covid-19 virus have permanent neurological, lung and heart problems as a result.

... especially those WW II and Korean War vets who might be returning to finish up a degree they started years ago ...

A Korean War vet would be at least 87 years old today. If you can find one attending college, I will be amazed. WW2 vets are even older. You have a unique perspective, I'll give you that.