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Harvard president tests positive for COVID-19, as all but two Ivies revise Commencement plans

<h5>Harvard University’s campus.</h5>
<h6>“Harvard University Widener Library” by Joseph Williams / <a href="" target="_self">CC BY 2.0</a></h6>
Harvard University’s campus.
“Harvard University Widener Library” by Joseph Williams / CC BY 2.0

Harvard University President Lawrence S. Bacow announced that he and his wife had tested positive for COVID-19, in an email sent yesterday to Harvard affiliates. Community members from all eight universities in the Ivy League have  tested positive for the virus.

According to reporting from the Harvard Crimson, Bacow and his wife, Adele F. Bacow, began experiencing symptoms on Sunday, March 22 and learned of their positive test results Tuesday afternoon. Bacow did not know how he contracted the virus, but noted that he and his wife began working from home and completely limiting contact with others on March 14.


“Larry Bacow is a terrific leader in higher education and a friend,” University President Christopher L. Eisgruber ’83 wrote in a statement sent to The Daily Princetonian. “I hope that he and Adele recover quickly.”

In a statement to the ‘Prince,’ University spokesperson Ben Chang confirmed that Eisgruber “is healthy and following all University protocols around [COVID-19]” and “has had no contact or symptoms that would warrant a [COVID-19] test.”

“The University’s senior leadership is engaged and working on our response to COVID-19; on the care of our community, near and far; and on maintaining the University’s academic mission remotely and virtually,” Chang added.

As of the most recent University announcement, University Health Services (UHS) was aware of 10 staff members and five students who had tested positive for COVID-19. The Crimson reported yesterday that “18 Harvard affiliates” had tested positive for the disease. 

Brown University officials had announced two individuals testing positive before deciding to stop sending communications about positive cases. Community members at Dartmouth University, the University of Pennsylvania, Yale University, Columbia University, and Cornell University have tested positive as well. 

Cornell, Columbia, Harvard, the University of Pennsylvania, and Brown have all canceled or postponed Commencement ceremonies. Yale’s decision to postpone Commencement was announced earlier today.  Dartmouth officials are “monitoring” the situation, and Princeton has not made a decision.


“We are actively considering options and will provide more information at a later date,” the University website notes.

There have been over 60,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States, with over 800 deaths. More tests have come back positive in New Jersey than in any other state, aside from New York.

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