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Second Harvard Affiliate Tests ‘Presumptive Positive’ for COVID-19

University officials sent an alert about a second case of the novel coronavirus Monday afternoon.
University officials sent an alert about a second case of the novel coronavirus Monday afternoon. By Aiyana G. White
By Fiona K. Brennan, Crimson Staff Writer

A second Harvard affiliate has tested “presumptive positive” for COVID-19, according to an email sent by Harvard University Health Services director Giang T. Nguyen.

University President Lawrence S. Bacow informed Harvard affiliates of the first presumptive positive case in an email sent Friday afternoon. The two cases are connected — Nguyen wrote Monday that “this person was tested based on close contact with the individual who received a positive test result on Friday.” A presumptive positive case means the test is pending confirmation testing from the Centers for Disease Control.

Nguyen also wrote that the second person Bacow referenced in his initial email who underwent screening tested negative for the virus.

As fears of contracting coronavirus rise, some Harvard undergraduates have begun speculating about potential cases at the College in Facebook groups and — before students vacated campus — in dining halls.

Neither Bacow’s Friday email nor Monday’s update gave information about the two cases other than noting their University ties. Nguyen underscored Harvard’s rationale for shielding the patients’ information, writing that the University believes maintaining their anonymity is “paramount.”

The local Department of Public Health is overseeing contact tracing efforts to determine whether the people who tested presumptive positive have interacted with other Harvard affiliates. Nguyen wrote that health officials will inform those individuals.

“If you have not been notified, then you are not deemed to have increased risk because of exposure to these individuals,” he wrote.

—Staff writer Fiona K. Brennan can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @FionaBrennan23.

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