Severe Illness Rare Among BU Students with COVID-19

wtbu · Severe Illness Rare Among BU Students with COVID-19

By Yeelin Bacchus


Daily COVID-19 cases at BU have been increasing, but students who get the virus generally recover quickly with few complications.

Hannah Landsberg, the director of case management and contact tracing at Healthway, shared some information about students’ experience with the virus in an interview with WTBU.

She said that roughly half of the students are asymptomatic when they test positive. She also gave insight into student recovery.

“The recovery time has been great,” she said. “So, what the state and CDC use for removal from isolation guidelines is 10 days from symptom onset, or if someone has no symptoms then 10 days from their test date. And all the students we’ve had have recovered in that expected time frame.”

Hospitalizations are “extremely rare,” Landsberg said.

“Maybe 1 to 2 cases of students have been referred for additional medical care, and none of those people have been admitted to the hospital,” she said.

Landsberg added that no students have reported long lasting symptoms after recovering, and she stressed the importance of filling out the daily symptom survey so any lingering symptoms can be identified.

In BU’s November 10th Weekly COVID-19 Report, Judy Platt, the director of Student Health Services, reported that some members of the BU community have experienced lingering symptoms like loss of taste and sense of smell or fatigue.

Landsberg did offer a note a caution when discussing the relatively quick recovery of students.

“Our students are physically doing well overall. However, it’s important to remember that our cases impact the communities around us as well as family members, if people are going home,” she said. “So, while young, healthy students are recovering quickly and haven’t had major complications, we definitely want to prevent cases overall for people who may not recover as quickly or as easily.”

In terms of transmission, Landsberg identified small, informal social gatherings as the highest-risk activities. This is consistent with what has been published in BU’s Weekly COVID-19 Reports.

The Nov. 10 report pointed out that not all off-campus students who test positive take advantage of on-campus isolation housing. Landsberg urged off campus students to use BU’s isolation housing and recommended that all students develop a plan with their roommates ahead of time in case they test positive.

Landsberg also praised students for providing very detailed information to contact tracers, and reaffirmed that the information students provide does not get passed onto the Dean of Students Office.

COVID-19 cases have also been on the rise in Boston, with 1,967 new cases and 12 deaths on Nov. 16. The increase in cases worries Landsberg, and she urged students to be extra careful.

“We need to go back to how we were acting in April and May in terms of being just so, so vigilant in washing our hands, and limiting our social interactions, and wearing that mask, and just being really careful to help reduce the spread overall,” she said.