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State Contact Tracing More Effective For BC, Baker Says

Boston College. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Boston College. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

The state's contact tracing team will help Boston College investigate and manage an outbreak of more than 100 COVID-19 cases since students returned to campus last month, a step that Gov. Charlie Baker said Tuesday will be more effective than leaving full responsibility in the school's hands.

Baker administration officials met with leaders from the school and from both Boston and Newton over the weekend as the scale of the outbreak became clearer.

"Boston College has campuses in three different communities. That's a lot of handoffs," Baker said during a press conference. "One of the things we talked to them about, which they agreed to do and so did the three communities they operate in, is to make the Contact Tracing Collaborative, which can handle multi-jurisdictional places more effectively, the overseer of the tracing program associated with the BC program."

The rise in cases set off a warning from Newton Mayor Ruthanne Fuller, but Baker said Tuesday that colleges across the state have fared generally well so far during the fall semester with a "very low" positive test rate.

About 105 campuses are involved in a contact tracing program with the state and the Broad Institute, he said.

"We need to make sure we stay on top of this," Baker said. "There's a certain amount of vigilance and repetition that is required to make our efforts to deal with COVID-19 ultimately successful. While they may seem annoying at times and pedantic, they're effective, and I think the commonwealth of Mass. on a general basis has done an extraordinarily good job."

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