Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

New COVID variant causes spike in cases on campus, Emerson to offer limited booster shots at upcoming clinics

Arthur Mansavage
Emerson releases new protocols and information about boosters as a new variant of COVID causes a spike in cases throughout Boston.

As thousands of college students returned to Boston in early September for the start of the new school year, the subsequent surge in COVID-19 cases followed similar patterns to the start of past Emerson semesters

“We are seeing an expected rate of COVID-19 as well as other upper respiratory viruses for this time of year amongst colleges and universities, as well as within a major city,” Brandin Dear, the Director of Health and Wellness at Emerson, said in an email to the Beacon. 

On Sept. 22, Emerson released an updated set of protocols and tips to minimize the spread of illness. Unlike previous semesters, the college no longer requires students and staff to be vaccinated for COVID-19. 

Dear also urged students to fill out the COVID Self Reporting Form through One Emerson within 24 hours of a positive COVID-19 test, as this helps the school “monitor activity and trends” regarding COVID-19.

Emerson does not provide COVID-19 testing kits but instead encourages students to obtain their own supply, according to Dear. 

“[The test] was definitely more expensive than I thought,” said Aidan Vahey, a sophomore visual media arts student who recently tested positive for COVID-19.

“I just went to CVS and I think it was 20 bucks for two sets of tests,” he added. 

Vahey said that he followed the current Emerson protocol after testing positive for COVID-19, which states that students should stay in isolation for the first five days and wear a “tight-fitting mask” for an additional five days after returning to activities on campus.

While Vahey was able to leave Emerson’s campus and go to his house in Massachusetts to quarantine, students who are unable to leave should enter “self-isolation” in their dorms on campus. However, when isolating with a roommate, students say this can be tricky. 

“I had four friends that tested positive in one day,” said Sebastian Olivo, a junior BCE student, who went into isolation in Piano Row last week.

“As soon as I tested positive, I went to my room and my roommate went to the couch,” he said. 

Because students in isolation aren’t supposed to use the dining hall or get food on campus, Olivo relied on his roommates to get him food throughout the day. Not wanting his roommates to use their swipes on him, he resorted to ordering takeout three times per day. 

“It was a lot of money for sure, but I didn’t want them to do any more work than they were already doing,” he said. 

Although Dear did not disclose the exact number of cases on the Emerson campus, it’s clear to students that COVID-19 is affecting many of their daily lives.

“There’s at least three or four people missing from each one of my classes because they are sick,” said Max Davis, an Emerson graduate student. 

This spike in cases at the college is consistent with the larger trend of the Boston population. According to the latest data from the City of Boston, COVID-19-related hospitalizations have increased by over 80 percent from Sept. 16 to Sept. 23. 

This rise in illness can likely be attributed to the new strain of the COVID-19 virus as well as the close proximity of students in the city, according to NBC10 Boston.

The new strain, named “Eris,” is a descendent of the Omicron variant and is spreading faster than any other current strain, according to Yale Medicine. While the new strain isn’t more or less dangerous than previous strains of COVID-19, Yale Medicine also said that it may be especially transmittable. 

To mitigate some of this risk, Emerson is encouraging students to get the updated booster shot and is working with an outside pharmaceutical team to make this a possibility, according to Dear. 

“We anticipate being able to offer the COVID-19 booster at our upcoming flu clinics in October, November, and January,” said Dear. 

Moderna announced in September that each booster shot will cost $130, and Pfizer priced their shot at $120. 

Emerson will not be making the shot free to students, and Dear said that “individuals will utilize their medical insurance to receive the booster.”

According to NBC News, insurance will fully cover the cost of the booster shot for most people, provided they are staying in network. For those without insurance, the CDC recently announced the “Bridge Access Program,” which will cover the cost of the boosters for Americans without insurance up until 2024. 

“I’ll get the booster,” said Carly Rosenberger, a junior BCE major at Emerson. “I think it’s the right thing to do not only for the students around me, but also for my grandparents when I go to see them on break.”  

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About the Contributor
Jack Burns
Jack Burns, Staff Writer
Jack Burns (he/him) is a junior journalism major at Emerson. He is currently a staff writer for the Beacon. Aside from the Beacon, Jack is a member of the men’s lacrosse team at Emerson and enjoys taking pictures of the city in his free time.

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  • M

    Michelle / Oct 9, 2023 at 4:48 pm

    Very interesting, great job Jack!

  • S

    Sabrina Lam / Oct 4, 2023 at 10:55 pm

    Great article, Jack!