640 positive tests reported by MIT Medical in past seven days

Stuopis predicts that “many” will “catch COVID in the weeks ahead”

As of 10:00 p.m. ET Jan. 12, MIT Medical has reported 640 positive COVID-19 tests out of 23,037 total tests in the past seven days (Jan. 6 to Jan. 12) for a positivity rate of 2.78%. 

MIT’s positivity rate is lower than the Cambridge 14-day average of 6.37% and the Massachusetts 7-day average of 21.61%, but the rate of positive cases has increased significantly from the fall semester, where the highest 7-day positivity rate was 0.28%.

Of the 640 positive cases recorded between Jan. 6 and Jan. 12, 268 are students, 275 are employees, and 97 are affiliates. 487 members of the MIT community are currently in isolation.

Since Independent Activities Period (IAP) began Jan. 3, MIT Medical has recorded over 1,000 positive tests. In the week of Jan. 2 through Jan. 8, 965 MIT community members tested positive out of 22,354 tests, for a positive test rate of 4.32%. According to a Dec. 21 email to the MIT community, residential density for undergraduates is expected to be reduced by 40–50% over IAP.

In response to the rising case numbers and spread of the Omicron variant, MIT has implemented various policies, including a requiring a booster vaccine, no longer permitting food to be served at events, updating isolation and contact tracing guidelines, and modifying IAP to reduce campus density.

MIT Medical is organizing a series of booster vaccine clinics during January and at the beginning of the spring semester.

In a Jan. 7 email to the MIT community, MIT Medical Director Cecilia Stuopis ’90 wrote that the “highly transmissible Omicron variant has led to a surge in cases across the country, in Massachusetts, and here at MIT.”

“Routine testing in recent weeks has revealed hundreds of cases, with a positivity rate around 5%,” Stuopis wrote. While MIT is “not aware of any cases from Omicron that have led to hospitalization,” in addition to receiving the booster vaccine, Stuopis recommends masking — particularly with a “high-quality mask like an N95/KN95/KF94” — or double-masking indoors, avoiding crowds and social gatherings, and being alert to minor symptoms. KN95 and KF94 masks are available at MIT’s testing kit drop-off locations.

Stuopis added that the “variant is so infectious that even the most careful people have tested positive,” and that “unfortunately, many of us will still catch COVID in the weeks ahead.”

In the event that an individual tests positive for COVID-19, they will be asked to complete MIT Medical’s Case Information Form, share close contacts with MIT Medical, isolate for five full days (or more, if fever or symptoms do not improve), and continue to wear a mask for five days following isolation. They will then be exempt from MIT’s testing program for 90 days, due to the high rate of non-infectious viral shedding.