House Life Largely Unaffected by Mumps Outbreak

Though the recent campus outbreak of mumps has altered the daily routines of quarantined students, greater social life—especially Housing Day plans—remain largely unaffected.

Many House Committees maintain that their plans for Housing Day, which is on Thursday, have not necessitated adjustments despite recommendations by Harvard University Health Services Director Paul J. Barreira to avoid large social gatherings.

“When possible, we encourage members of the community to avoid dense social spaces and to practice good hygiene at all times,” Barreira wrote in an email to students on Friday.

In practice, the advice has not disturbed the efforts of the committees.

“I don’t think that this outbreak is so severe that it should disrupt one of the most important traditions at Harvard,” said Daniel V. Banks ’17, Dunster House Committee Co-Chair and Vice President of Undergraduate Council.

According to Alina M. Acosta, HoCo Co-Chair of Cabot, the outbreak has not affected their planning at all, but she said she has definitely noticed everybody trying to be more careful.

For students who have been relocated to receive isolated care, though, life on campus has not remained quite so uninterrupted.

Henry M. N. Brooks ’19, who has been quarantined at the Harvard Inn for four days now, said living is isolation has been strange and allows for no flexibility.

“It’s funny to be in this sort of plague where you’re not allowed to talk to anybody and people bring you meals,” Brooks said. “The rigidity of it all is really funny, but I get their intention with it.”

Still, Brooks considers himself “lucky,” since he will be released in time to take part in Housing Day celebrations and receive his upperclassman housing assignment.

The number of confirmed mumps cases at the University has not increased since last Wednesday when Barreira sent an email, which stated that six students on campus had contracted the virus. Students and patients report being largely satisfied with the swift response of HUHS to mitigate the outbreak.

“HUHS has done top grade job in keeping the student body informed,” Banks said.

Brooks said HUHS updates him periodically through the medical portal messaging system.

Overall, many students said they are not too weary about contracting mumps because of the relatively small number of people with the virus..

“Especially since most people who have contracted mumps are being quarantined and most symptoms are immediate and recognizable, like a swollen face, I’m not too stressed out about it,” John A. N. Matthews ’19 said. “I would have a greater fear of contracting the flu than contracting mumps at this point and time.”

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