Boston College Coronavirus Outbreak Grows: Here's What We Know

More than 80 Boston College students are now in isolation

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What started as about a dozen coronavirus cases among members of Boston College's swimming and diving teams has turned into a full-on outbreak, with more than 80 students now in isolation.

Both public officials and health experts have expressed concerns that things could get worse if swift action isn't taken.

Here's what we know about the situation so far:

What happened?

On Thursday, BC announced that its swimming and diving programs had been suspended after 13 team members tested positive for COVID-19, a school official said. Many members of the team have been moved to the Hotel Boston to isolate, a school official said. Close contacts are being quarantined in dorms or apartments.

Boston University created a website called “Back 2 BU” where the reopening plan for each area of the university is detailed.

A BC spokesman told the Boston Globe that many of the cases reported among student athletes are related to an off-campus gathering where students watched a basketball game without masks or proper social distancing

On Sept. 8, the school reported that 30 undergraduate students were in isolation, including 20 who were recovering at home. That number grew to 67 as of Saturday, with 82 students in isolation, according to the Boston Herald. The school has now had 104 positive cases since it reopened a few weeks ago, with 22 of them having recovered.

Officials, experts express concern

Newton Mayor Ruthanne Fuller said in a statement over the weekend that she is "gravely concerned" about the transmission of the coronavirus at BC.

"Boston College community members are integrally connected with Newton ̶ they live, shop, dine & drink, play sports, work and recreate amongst our community," she said. "When COVID-19 spikes within the Boston College community, this impacts all of us in Newton."

She said BC "must take swift, decisive and effective action now to contain the spread of this serious infectious disease. The data on the spike in positive Boston College cases demonstrates viral transmission. They must act now to protect the health of their BC community and all our Newtonians. They must act now so Newton’s low positivity rate does not rise. Boston College must act now to ensure that their operations do not threaten our ability to begin to reopen Newton schools in-person, to get our residents back to work, and our restaurants, retailers and other businesses back on their feet."

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said the outbreak is a "serious matter" and that his administration has been communicating closely with the school, the state officials in Newton.

The Boston area's sky-high rental prices are down with college students expected to remain off-campus.

Medical experts have also expressed concern about the outbreak.

“It’s very hard to put the genie back in the bottle,” Dr. Rochelle Walensky, chief of the infectious disease division at Massachusetts General Hospital, told the Globe. “Now they are on a massive chase, and time is not on their side.”

What's next?

Officials from BC, the state, Newton and Boston attended a virtual meeting on Saturday where the school was urged to boost its coronavirus testing efforts.

According to the Herald, Newton, Boston and state officials also asked to take over contact tracing for BC students. The school reportedly agreed.

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