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Driven by Spike Among Grad Students, Harvard On-Campus Covid Cases Rise

By Lucas J. Walsh, Crimson Staff Writer

Covid-19 cases on Harvard’s campus have risen steadily in the last week-and-a-half, driven in large part by a spike among graduate students and faculty and staff.

The on-campus seven-day Covid-19 positivity rate sat at 1.54 percent as of Wednesday evening, according to Harvard’s Covid-19 Dashboard. Last week, 430 Harvard affiliates tested positive — up from 279 from the week prior. Just over half of the positive cases on campus last week were graduate students.

The spike comes one month after Harvard lifted its on-campus mask requirement during Spring Break.

Case counts, though rising, have not matched the peak of the Omicron spike in January, when the school reported 976 positives in a single week.

Undergraduate case counts rose last week, but not to pre-Spring Break levels. During the first week of March, 342 College students tested positive — the highest single-week sum since the beginning of the pandemic.

“While we have seen recent increases in cases, they are not as high as what we saw in January,” Harvard University Health Services Director Giang T. Nguyen wrote to University affiliates on Wednesday. “Increases are consistent with virus levels that the state of Massachusetts is reporting through its tracking of sewer wastewater.”

The State of Massachusetts reported a 2.93 percent seven-day positivity rate as of April 7. The city of Cambridge reported a 2.3 percent 14-day positivity rate as of the same day.

Harvard also updated its travel guidance on Wednesday to remove a requirement that unvaccinated affiliates submit travel petitions for University-related travel. Affiliates who are fully vaccinated and boosted are no longer required to submit a form attesting their vaccination status.

Nguyen wrote that most cases have been mild due to the high vaccination rate across the University. He also wrote that University affiliates should take safety precautions if they intend to travel in the near future.

“Each of us controls what steps we can take to protect ourselves,” he wrote. “Use the knowledge about local disease prevalence to inform your own behavior, especially if you or a household member is at high risk due to age, lack of immunization, or medical issues. If you are concerned about potential exposures, you can reduce your own risk by wearing a high-quality mask that fits securely without air gaps.”

—Staff writer Lucas J. Walsh can be reached at lucas.walsh@thecrimson.com.

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