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Covid-19 Updates: Merrimack College Edition

We will regularly update this page with information about Covid-19 as it relates to Merrimack College.

November 18, 2020

November 11, 2020

  • Merrimack College reported 8 positive cases between 11/2 and 11/8, which is a 0.161% positivity rate.
  • This is well below the state’s current 7-day average positivity rate of 2.27%. The governor of Massachusetts recently announced new safety measures and discussed reopening field hospitals as many fear we are in a second surge that will worsen in coming weeks and months.
  • The United States recently passed a grim milestone: 10 million positive cases of Covid-19.
  • Students, faculty, and staff should familiarize themselves with the Spring 2021 Handbook. One change for the spring: Merrimack College will move to twice weekly testing.

November 3, 2020

  • Merrimack College reported 5 positive tests from 10/27 through 11/1.
  • The college will be adjusting its Covid-19 Dashboard next week. The posted an explanation on their website: “In an effort to align the College Dashboard with data reported by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the 7-Day Rolling Total will now be based on results from Monday through Sunday. To transition to this new reporting period for this week only the data presented will be results from Tuesday, October 27 through Sunday, November 1st. The next Dashboard will have a 7-Day Rolling period of Monday, November 2nd through Sunday, November 8th.”

October 28, 2020

  • Merrimack College reported 15 positive tests for the week of 10/20 to 10/26.
  • Although this is an increase from the previous week’s report, the positivity rate on campus is only .286 percent, which is lower than the states positivity rate of 1.7%

October 23, 2020

  • Merrimack College sent The Beacon a statement clarifying the positive cases in O’Brien: “Merrimack College did have a small number of positive cases in O’Brien Hall. Based on the data there was no reason to take any actions such as closing the residential building or any part of the building. Instead, the College had residents of O’Brien Hall limit their activities on campus by staying in O’Brien Hall and test repeatedly over several days. Based on the results of those tests, there were no more positives and students living in O’Brien Hall were able to resume their residential life on campus.”

October 22, 2020

  • The Beacon has identified a number of students living in O’Brien who tested positive for Covid-19.
  • The college is keeping O’Brien open and students were told these cases are unlike the Monican cluster a few weeks ago.
  • Students were told at a dorm meeting with administration that contract tracing information suggests these positive cases are not connected in the same way as Monican and do not indicate an outbreak.
  • The college has yet to release official information to campus members as the situation is still unfolding.

Edit 10-23-20 5:00pm: This post has been updated to reflect additional incoming information.

October 22, 2020

  • The Beacon has identified a number of students living in O’Brien who recently tested positive for Covid-19.
  • At least one student also tested positive in the Townhouses and several others are now isolating.
  • The college has not closed O’Brien, but we know several students are temporarily quarantining until they can get tested again. Students living in O’Brien were also instructed to get tested again today.

Edit 10-23-20 5:00pm: This post has been updated to reflect additional incoming information.

October 21, 2020

  • Merrimack’s weekly positive case count is again low following the Monican outbreak. Only 3 out of 4,965 tests came back positive between October 13 and October 19.
  • Other institutions of higher education around the country are still reporting large numbers of Covid-19 cases. The New York Times reports that there have been 178,000 cases of Covid-19 linked to college campuses this semester.
  • Other colleges in the news:
    • According to the The Tiger, “1 in 6 Clemson U. Students Test Positive for Covid-19.”
    • The Independent Florida Alligator reports that the “Gators football team has 19 positive COVID-19 cases.”
    • Students at the University of Michigan are currently being instructed to “Stay in Place” after 600 cases were reported in their county. The Michigan Daily reports that administrators are blaming “social gatherings that violate public health guidelines.”
  • Here is a recap of outbreaks at colleges in New England.

October 13, 2020

  • The college reported 13 positive tests last week, which is about the same as September 29 through October 5.
  • The positivity rate for the week is well below 1%.
  • North Andover is now considered in the “red” on state maps. However, they asked the state to reconsider that classification because it’s tied to the Merrimack College outbreak and not a sign of spread throughout the community at large.

October 7, 2020

  • Many Monican students are returning to campus this week, and in-person instruction resumes again today.
  • The outbreak in Monican was contained by the swift action of the college, which quarantined all students after 5 cases were spotted through surveillance testing.
  • The outbreak at Merrimack did push North Andover into the “red” in terms of the state of Massachusetts’ case tracking.
  • Over the past 8 weeks there have been 110 cases connected to Merrimack. 65 were related to Monican, 21 other residential students, 16 off campus/commuter students, 7 employees & vendors.
  • One adjunct faculty member is included in the employee count, although that case happened at the very beginning of the semester and is not be attributed to classroom teaching. To date, the college says there is no evidence of classroom transmission.

September 30, 2020

  • Merrimack reported a total of 65 positive tests lack week with a positivity rate of about 1 percent.
  • Merrimack performed 1875 more tests last week compared to the previous week.
  • The outbreak in Monican still appears to be contained to based on additional testing.

September 28, 2020

  • Merrimack College will temporarily convert to remote learning for the entire campus this week (September 28 through October 2). This decision was made to ensure the containment of the Covid-19 outbreak.
  • Monican Hall was temporarily closed last week after 5 students initially tested positive for Covid-19. Departure testing revealed that about 60 Monican students are positive for Covid-19.
  • Testing last week also found 12 additional “isolated cases.” According to a college email, “Among these cases there are three commuters, one employee and eight residential student positive cases. None of the additional positive cases appear, at this time, to be connected to the Monican cluster, and we continue to aggressively test and watch the Monican impact. Everyone who has tested positive this week is now in isolation and their direct contacts are now in quarantine.”
  • Testing will be ramped up this week, but operations, such as food service, will continue as normal.
  • In general, students report being “pleased” with Merrimack’s swift response in identifying and containing the outbreak of Covid-19.
  • An archive of the campus’ Covid-19 alerts can be found here.

September 16, 2020

  • Merrimack College is now monitoring 11 community members, 7 students and 4 vendors/employees. None of the students currently in  isolation or in quarantine are symptomatic.
  • At the request of local governments, Merrimack created a public dashboard where it will post data related to COVID-19. The dashboard can be found here.
  • The college is increasing “testing protocol for approximately 850 residential and commuter students to a twice a week testing for the next few weeks,” the administration said in a recent email to some campus members.
  • The testing compliance rate remains high at 96.8% last week.

September 8, 2020

  • Merrimack has conducted nearly 13,500 tests to date of students, faculty, staff and vendors and the total number of positive tests stands at eight. This means that the cumulative positivity rate is less than 0.06 percent. 
  • The testing compliance rate was 98.3 percent last week, which means that the vast majority of campus members are showing up for their scheduled testing times.
  • Merrimack College is currently monitoring eleven community members in different stages of their CDC required fourteen-day quarantine. “To date, no community members in isolation or in quarantine are symptomatic,” administrators said in an email to the campus community on September 8.
  • In this week’s COVID-19 announcements, the college also reminded everyone of the following campus policies and expectations:
    • No parties (on or off campus)
    • Wear your face covering
    • Social distance (6ft or more)
    • Get COVID-19 tested weekly and don’t miss your scheduled time
    • Monitor your own health and daily self-symptom check
    • Conduct Zoom meetings in place of in-person meetings when possible
    • Wash your hands
    • Be patient and be kind to one another and to the faculty, staff, first responders and student workers who are all working on the frontline to ensure the College opened and remains open

September 4, 2020

  • This week the college reported only 4 positive cases of Covid-19 out of about 10,000 tests reported. The extremely low positivity rate at Merrimack College is distinct compared to reports coming from other colleges and universities around the country. According to the college: “In all four positive cases, our contact tracing system quickly moved to ensure each case was isolated off of the campus and those in contact with each positive community member where identified, contacted and quarantined.”
  • The college currently boasts a 98.7% testing compliance rate, which means that the vast majority of campus community members are showing up on time to receive their weekly tests.
  • Merrimack students, faculty, and staff are encouraged to download the phone application CoVerified in order to check their symptoms everyday.
  • Here are some of the Covid-19 Alerts emailed to the campus community so far this semester:
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