58 new cases conclude week of significant COVID-19 spread

445 active cases in the UMass community

Collegian+file+photo

Collegian file photo

By Will Katcher, Assistant News Editor

The University of Massachusetts reported 58 new cases of the coronavirus Sunday morning, the results of testing conducted Friday, bringing what was already a devastating week of virus spread to a close.

On Monday, the first day of spring semester classes, 36 students tested positive, narrowly passing the previous single-day record for most new cases. But between Tuesday and Thursday, the numbers took off — 298 positive tests spread out between those three days.

With Friday’s tests published, 445 UMass community members currently have the virus. The school’s COVID dashboard does not differentiate between on- or off-campus students, faculty or staff, but campus spokesman Ed Blaguszewski said on Wednesday that nearly all of the results were from students, and predominantly undergraduates.

In the past 48 hours, University administrators have twice raised the campus’ “Operational Posture,” first from “Guarded” to “Elevated,” and then from “Elevated to High.”

In an email just before 8 a.m. Sunday morning, Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy explained that the designation would remain in place for at least two weeks and would result in classes shifting to entirely online instruction. He also directed all students, whether living on- or off-campus, to “self-sequester.”

“Students must stay in their residences, both on and off campus, except to get meals, undergo twice-weekly COVID testing, or to attend medical appointments,” Subbaswamy said. “Failure to comply with these directives is a violation of the Code of Student Conduct and will result in disciplinary action, which may include removal from residence halls and/or suspension.”

“Also, all campus athletic competitions and practices are cancelled,” he added.

Subbaswamy’s email comes closely on the tail of a Daily Collegian story, published Saturday evening, revealing that Theta Chi fraternity held two crowded, mask-less parties the previous weekend. Multiple sources confirmed to the Collegian that students who attended the parties tested positive for the virus in the days following.

Will Katcher can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter at @will_katcher