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Harvard Business School Moves Into High-Risk Red Zone With 18 New Covid-19 Cases

Since March 30, Harvard Business School has reported 26 Covid-19 cases, meeting the state's criteria for red-zone designation of more than 25 cases in a community under 10,000 residents within the last two weeks.
Since March 30, Harvard Business School has reported 26 Covid-19 cases, meeting the state's criteria for red-zone designation of more than 25 cases in a community under 10,000 residents within the last two weeks. By Jason K. Thong
By Claire H. Guo and Christine Mui, Crimson Staff Writers

As positive coronavirus cases trend upwards across the University, Harvard Business School has moved into the state’s “red zone” with 18 new Covid-19 cases reported last week, all among students.

The new cases represent the school’s third highest weekly total since infections spiked at the start of September, according to a weekly update email sent to HBS affiliates on Monday.

Since March 30, HBS has reported 26 cases, meeting the state’s criteria for red-zone designation of more than 25 cases in a community under 10,000 residents within the last two weeks. Twenty-one students were in isolation and 21 in quarantine as of Monday.

The Business School is one of Harvard’s only schools conducting limited in-person instruction this semester.

Executive Dean for Administration Angela Q. Crispi and Dean of the Faculty Srikant M. Datar expressed concerns in the update email about the increase in cases as the end of the semester nears.

“We need to highlight, with dismay, the current positivity rate among MBA students,” they wrote. “We’re starting with the testing data—stark numbers that indicate we’ve moved into the red zone.”

“Please be extra vigilant and diligent—for yourself, for your classmates, and for the many faculty and staff who want to see you finish the year on a high note,” they added.

HBS spokesperson Brian C. Kenny wrote in an emailed statement that HBS does not have information on the cause of the increase in cases, but none were the result of classroom activities.

Likewise, the University’s Covid-19 testing dashboard indicates that no cases within the last seven days involved “transmission within the workplace or educational settings.”

The increase at HBS aligns with an uptick in total cases at Harvard. In the last seven days, the dashboard reported 51 new positive cases across the University, up from 25 cases the week of March 28 and 39 cases the week of April 4. Additionally, 61 affiliates are currently in isolation housing.

Harvard spokesperson Jason A. Newton wrote in an emailed statement that the increase in cases at Harvard follows a pattern across the country, pointing to vaccination rates and the rise in coronavirus variants in Massachusetts as possible factors.

“Most infections in Massachusetts are occurring among persons who have not been fully vaccinated, pointing to the continued risk in the region,” Newton wrote. “Massachusetts is also experiencing increased presence of virus variants, which have higher infectivity.”

New case numbers are typically included in weekly coronavirus updates on the Harvard Business School’s website. The week of April 6 to 12 is the first week since HBS launched its internal testing dashboard in February that testing data has not been included.

Kenny wrote this omission was due to HBS’s recognition that those unaffiliated with HBS or Harvard can find University-wide testing data on Harvard’s Covid-19 dashboard.

“We do not always include the case numbers, knowing that people outside of the HBS/Harvard community can access the University’s COVID-19 dashboard for a comprehensive view of the numbers, which we link to in many of the messages,” Kenny wrote.

Kenny wrote the Dean’s Office has sent emails with case and testing information intended for an internal audience on a weekly basis as needed. HBS administrators have continued to disclose the new case numbers in their weekly internal emails.

“With regard to the messages to the community, our intention since the outset of the pandemic has been to communicate regularly with all the members of our community, including students, faculty and staff,” Kenny wrote.

—Staff writer Claire H. Guo can be reached at claire.guo@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @clairehguo.

—Staff writer Christine Mui can be reached at christine.mui@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @MuiChristine.

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