COVID-19 Update(s): What we know right now

More information to come in the coming weeks

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Thursday, August 6, 2020: UMass announces significant changes to the re-opening of the campus for the fall semester.

As the number of COVID-19 cases has significantly begun to rise across the country again, many universities have had to re-evaluate their plans for the fall semester–including UMass.

In an email sent out to the campus Thursday evening, Chancellor Subbaswamy revoked his earlier decision about allowing any students who wish to return to campus. He stated that, “only students who are enrolled in essential face-to-face classes, including laboratory, studio and capstone courses, which have been designated in SPIRE, will be accommodated in campus residence halls and be granted access to campus facilities and dining this fall. All other students, whose courses do not require a physical presence on campus, should plan to engage in their studies remotely, from home.”

Additionally, the email addressed those who’s classes are remote and are planning to live off-campus in Amherst, to “refrain” from coming back to the area “in the interest of public health.” As they will not be allowed to utilize on-campus facilities.

Thursday, July 9, 2020: UMass announces plan for hybrid in-person and online classes for international students to ensure that they are in compliance with ICE’s new regulations.

Earlier this week, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced a set of new draft regulations with potentially severe consequences for international students, who are attending college in the United States via visas. Thursday afternoon, Chancellor Subbaswamy sent out an email to the campus community announcing his personal disapproval of these new regulations and the University’s allegiance to helping the international students, through any means possible.

There are currently nearly 3,400 international students studying on the UMass campus and Chancellor Subbaswamy issued a statement directly to them in his email, “to our international students, I would like to say unequivocally that you are welcome here and we will do our utmost to support your academic aspirations as members of the UMass community.”

According to the email, the Provost and Deans of individual colleges are working together to develop a plan of hybrid in-person and online classes to ensure that international students are in compliance with the new regulations. Chancellor Subbaswamy also encouraged students to voice their concerns on the importance of allowing international students to remain in the campus community, by contacting the Massachusetts federal delegation.

Monday, June 29, 2020: UMass announces final plan for the Fall 2020 semester.

In an email to the campus community on Monday afternoon, Chancellor Subbaswamy announced the final plan for the Fall 2020 semester. The email stated that the majority of classes will be conducted remotely, “only essential face-to-face labs, studios, performance, and other courses involving hands-on work will be conducted on campus and in-person.” The semester’s schedule will adhere to the one previously mentioned by the office of the Provost.

Students can check whether their classes will be held online or in-person on Spire. Check out the Wire’s tips on How to find “Fully  Remote” classes on Spire.

New and returning students will be allowed to live on-campus as long as they follow the “strict public health behavioral restrictions.” This includes agreeing to wear a face-covering upon leaving your dorm, following strict physical distancing, limiting social contact to a minimal number of people per day, the prohibition of guests in residence halls, being subject to virus testing on-demand and daily self-monitoring and reporting.

A contact tracing initiative will be established within the campus prior to the start of the semester, to track any and all spreading of the virus on campus.

According to the email, Chancellor Subbaswamy emphasized the fall semester “will not be anything resembling normal college life.” And even though students may choose to come to campus, it is likely that the majority, if not all, of their classes will be online.

Furthermore, Chancellor Subbaswamy mentioned in the email’s conclusion that “if a high incidence of COVID-19 develops anytime during the semester on campus or in the surrounding towns, we may be forced to shift to an entirely remote mode of operation, with the closure of residence halls and campus facilities, as happened in March 2020.”

Tuesday, June 16, 2020: UMass announces changes to the academic calendar for the Fall 2020 semester.

On Tuesday afternoon, an email from the office of the Provost was sent out to the campus community with details of the revised academic schedule for Fall 2020. According to the email, classes will begin two weeks ahead of schedule on Aug. 24 and conclude on Nov. 20.

Classes will be conducted on three holidays, including Labor Day, Columbus Day and Veterans Day. Furthermore, students will not return to campus after Thanksgiving break. And final exams will occur remotely from Nov. 30 through Dec. 4.

This schedule was adopted by the Faculty Senate Rules Committee, and “is designed to establish as safe an environment as possible to manage the risks associated with COVID-19.” Within the coming weeks, UMass will release details on housing for those planning to live on-and-off-campus.

Friday, May 29, 2020: Gov. Charlie Baker announces a preview of his plan for the re-opening of restaurants and UMass engineering professor is helping to develop a new COVID-19 rapid testing device for COVID-19.

Friday’s report from Mass.gov details that there were 617 new cases of COVID-19 in Mass. and 78 deaths. The totals of each amount to 95,512 and 6,718, respectively.

During Gov. Charlie Baker’s press conference on Friday afternoon, he unveiled a preview of his plan for the re-opening of restaurants which is expected to launch in phase 2. For restaurants, only outdoor dining will be permitted with at least six feet of distance between tables. Additionally, only allowing a maximum of six people will be allowed to sit at each table.

According to Friday’s daily Coronavirus update from UMass, Professor Jonathan Rothstein from the department of mechanical and industrial engineering is part of a multi-institutional research team, who are in the process of developing a new testing system for COVID-19. The device will allow for rapid testing results and is said to resemble that of a breathalyzer.

Friday, May 22, 2020: As the number of cases continue to rise in Massachusetts, UMass announces new public wireless location for COVID-19 response.

According to Friday’s report from Mass.gov, 805 new cases of COVID-19 have emerged in Massachusetts, which brings the total to 90,889.

In Friday’s daily coronavirus update from UMass, the school notified the community that wireless service in Lot 11 is now available to the public. According to the update, “Anyone with a wireless-ready device can connect to the unrestricted UMASS-OPEN network in Lot 11 near McGuirk Alumni Stadium.” This decision is to provide internet access to residents who live in rural communities with unreliable connection, stated the update.

Additionally, the lot has been identified by the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) as a critical space that can serve as a storage and distribution area during COVID-19, as well as a large drive-through testing location.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020: Gov. Charlie Baker unveils the initial plans of his four-stage-approach for the reopening of Massachusetts and Chancellor Subbaswamy announces date on when the plan for the fall semester will be revealed.

The total of Coronavirus cases in Massachusetts has escalated to 87,925. However, the daily totals of both the number of confirmed cases and the death count have decreased over the last couple of weeks. According to Tuesday’s report from Mass.gov, there have 873 new cases reported today along with 76 deaths.

On Monday, May 18, after weeks of anticipation Gov. Charlie Baker unveiled his four-stage-approach for the reopening of Massachusetts. Phase one began on Monday with the consent for the gradual opening of houses of worship, manufacturing and construction businesses as long as they follow strict social distancing guidelines. These include: wearing masks, maintaining a six ft. distance from others, providing accessible handwashing stations and limiting occupancy to 40 percent of the building’s current occupancy. Next Monday, May 25, offices, aside from those in Boston; hairdressers and barbershops; pet groomers; parks and beaches are expected to open, with restrictions. Each phase is expected to last three weeks, with the potential for a setback if the number of the virus begins to escalate. Gov. Baker has made it clear that “the reopening will be driven by public health data.”

Tuesday afternoon, Chancellor Subbaswamy sent an email out to the campus community regarding the status of the fall semester and for the first time, names an official date on when a decision will be made. According to the timeline provided in the email, teams of administrators will advise him on options by June 1 with an official decision on the plan for the fall announced to the campus community by June 30.

Sunday, May 3, 2020: Number of COVID-19 cases in Massachusetts are still steadily increasing.

Sunday’s report from Mass.gov documented a 1,824 case increase of the virus along with 158 individuals succumbing to the Coronavirus. The totals in each category amount to 68,087 and 4,004, respectively. Of all those who have the virus currently, five percent are hospitalized and 904 are in Intensive Care.

Saturday, May 2, 2020: Gov. Charlie Baker issues a mandatory mask order starting on May 6 as the number of confirmed virus cases continues to steadily increase.

According to Saturday’s report from Mass.gov, there was an increase in 1,952 COVID-19 cases in the state with the total amounting to 66,263, contributing to the steady increase in diagnosed cases of the virus. Out of all those diagnosed positive, 5 percent are being hospitalized, with only 921 cases in Intensive Care.

On Friday, Gov. Charlie Baker issued a mandatory mask order for everyone in the state, starting on May 6. The order pertains to residents who are in public places where social distancing is not possible. It applies to any of the customers and owners of businesses and organizations open to the public; including grocery and retail stores, and public transportation. Those that are exempt are children under the age of two and those with a medical condition who cannot wear a mask.

Friday, May 1, 2020: COVID-19 cases in Mass. continue to rise slowly and UMass fails to provide answers on the status of next semester.

On Friday’s coronavirus report, 2,106 new cases were reported, continuing the steady increase in diagnosed cases and testing since April 27th’s low. Out of all cases, 6 percent of individuals impacted by the disease have been hospitalized, and within that percent, 947 individuals are in the ICU.  In total, there have been 3716 reported deaths, with 154 deaths reported today.

The University of Massachusetts Amherst has released a FAQ for the fall 2020 semester, which remains vague on the details of what next semester will look like. The university has plans in place for various scenarios, be it in person, remote, or blended learning. To accommodate students who will be unable to attend next semester in person, the university is offering continued remote learning. Tuitions and fees remain unchanged regardless of what format the semester will be held in. There is also a new hiring freeze on all staff and employees.

Thursday, April 30, 2020: The number of COVID-19 cases in Massachusetts ramps up slowly and Gov. Charlie Baker provides an update on the Contact Tracing Initiative.

Thursday’s report from Mass.gov indicates that there has been an increase in 1,940 COVID-19 cases in Massachusetts, bringing the total number of cases to 62,205. Additionally, only 6 percent, or 1,001, of the people who contracted the virus have been hospitalized.

During Thursday afternoon’s briefing, Gov. Charlie Baker announced an update regarding the innovative Community Tracing Collaborative. Partners in Health has reportedly started hiring and training over 1,000 individuals, who have already contacted 5,000 people. According to its current findings, each positive contact averages two contacts per case. The calls will come from a number with an 833 or 857 area code, and the caller ID will say “MA COVID Team.”

Wednesday, April 29, 2020: Cases slowly continue to rise and UMass answers questions about Fall 2020.

According to Wednesday’s report from Mass.gov, there are now 1,963 newly diagnosed cases of the virus in Mass. This brings the total number of cases to 60,265.

Amid the growth of the virus and uncertainty for the upcoming semesters, UMass has released FAQs regarding the Fall 2020 Semester for returning students on its COVID-19 page. While the school has yet to make a decision on hosting in-person classes during the fall, it writes “If we do resume in-person instruction for the fall semester, we recognize some students may not be able to safely travel to campus. To accommodate those students, we plan to continue offering remote instruction as an option for fall 2020.”

Tuesday, April 28, 2020: The number of COVID-19 cases in Massachusetts rises slightly and Gov. Charlie Baker announces plan to reopen non-essential businesses on May 18.

There have been a reported 1,830 newly diagnosed cases of coronavirus, according to Mass.gov’s Tuesday Coronavirus Report. This number of diagnosed cases is an increase when compared to the clear decline in cases of the past few days, but it is lower than the overall high of April 24. 150 more people have succumbed to the disease, bringing the total deaths in Massachusetts to 3,153. 1810 deaths, or 57 percent, of people who died from coronavirus, lived in long term residential care facilities. 

During a press conference on Tuesday, Gov. Charlie Baker began to outline the plan for Massachusetts reopening. The stay at home advisory is no longer ending on May 4, but rather May 18. By May 18, businesses are expected to have plans on how to reopen. 

Monday, April 27, 2020:  Number of COVID-19 cases and resulting deaths are the lowest that they’ve been in a couple of weeks and Gov. Charlie Baker announces new budget and plan for nursing homes in Mass. to safeguard the elderly.

Monday’s report from Mass.gov reports that there are 1,524 newly diagnosed cases of COVID-19 in Massachusetts with a total of 56,462 cases currently in the state. Additionally, there were 104 deaths reported with a total of 3,003 individuals succumbing to the virus. Monday’s confirmed cases and deaths numbers are lower than they have been within the past couple of weeks.

During Gov. Charlie Baker’s press conference on Monday, he announced a $130 million budget as well as additional requirements for nursing homes regarding testing, infection control, PPE equipment and staffing. “We are committed to protecting the Commonwealth’s older adults and to working with operators to keep them safe,” he said during the briefing.

Sunday, April 26, 2020: Number of diagnosed COVID-19 cases has begun to plateau while the death count continues to rise.

According to Sunday’s report from Mass.gov, there are 1,590 new cases of COVID-19 in Mass. with the total amounting to 54,938 cases in the state. Furthermore, 169 deaths were reported contributing to the 2,899 individuals that have succumbed to the virus. To date, 7 percent of the individuals who have contracted the virus are hospitalized, with 1,077 people in the ICU. Sunday’s reported cases are significantly lower than they have been this past week.

Saturday, April 25, 2020: Number of COVID-19 cases and the death toll in Massachusetts continue to rise and Gov. Charlie Baker extends the closing of non-essential businesses indefinitely.

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Massachusetts on Saturday has risen to 53,348, with 2,379 new cases reported. The death toll has risen to 2,730, with an increase of 174 deaths. Out of all these cases, 7 percent have been hospitalized and 1,058 people are in the ICU. Saturday’s reported cases are lower than both Friday’s and Thursday’s.

In a press conference on Saturday afternoon, Gov. Charlie Baker extended the closing of non-essential Massachusetts businesses past May 5 and indicated that they are waiting for certain milestones to occur (drops in hospitalization and ) to declare a date for the re-opening of essential businesses. 

Friday, April 24, 2020: The number of COVID-19 cases in Massachusetts exceeds 50,000 and UMass shares the stories of how student members of the campus EMS team are serving their home communities.

According to Friday’s report from Mass.gov, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Mass. has currently exceeded 50,000, with a 4,946 case surge on Friday alone. There was also a 196 increase in death, with a total of 2,556 people succumbing to the virus. Additionally, the data indicated that eight percent of all the cases in the state resulted in hospitalization with 1,048 cases currently in Intensive Care.

In UMass’ daily coronavirus update on Friday, shared the stories of several student members of the University of Massachusetts Amherst Emergency Medical Services (EMS) who are working for their home communities’ EMS teams. Brian Keefe, a student at UMass who is currently working as an EMT at Alert Ambulance in Chicopee, credits the experience and training that he received at UMass to be very beneficial for the current situations he is working in, “The thing that has surprised me the most is that in a true emergency, no one cares if you are a 21-year-old college student or a 50-year-old career EMT. They want someone who will help them,” he says.

Thursday, April 23, 2020: Over 3,000 new cases of COVID-19 emerge in Mass. and Senator Elizabeth Warren’s eldest brother passes away from the virus.

In Thursday’s report from Mass.gov, there are now 46,023 cases of COVID-19 in Massachusetts, a 3,079 case increase from Wednesday. Additionally, there were 178 deaths reported leading up to the total death toll of 2,360.

Thursday morning, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren announced that her older brother, Don Reed, passed away from the virus on Tuesday evening in Oklahoma. She shared the news on Twitter, along with a sentimental message, “I’m grateful to the nurses and frontline staff who took care of him, but it’s hard to know that there was no family to hold his hand or to say ‘I love you’ one more time—and no funeral for those of us who loved him to hold each other close. I’ll miss you dearly my brother.” Hers is just one of the thousands of families that have lost a family member as a result of the pandemic.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020: Number of COVID-19 cases in Massachusetts continues to intensify.

According to Mass.gov, 221 new deaths were reported, in addition to 1745 new cases in Wednesday, April 22nd’s coronavirus report. With the totals in each category amounting to 2,182 and 42,944, respectively. Suffolk, and its four surrounding counties, along with Hampden, have the highest prevalence of coronavirus cases. Moreover, Massachusetts General Hospital has the highest number of patients being treated for coronavirus, both in an Intensive Care and non-Intensive Care settings.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020: The number of cases in Mass. continues to rise, DPH releases new visual data and another UMass employee tests positive for the virus.

On April 20, the Department of Public Health shared an enhanced visual graphic of daily COVID-19 data in Mass. The latest Mass.gov report shows there are now 41,1999 cases of COVID-19 in Mass.

Additionally, the UMass daily coronavirus update has notified the community that an employee has tested positive for the virus. The employee, who was last on campus Tuesday, April 14, works on the fourth floor of the Integrated Sciences Building. According to the update, the employee limited their physical contact on campus, practiced social distancing and even wore a face mask while at work.

While the university has increased sanitizing around that employee’s area, it will also work to track potential cases as a result of this positive case. The update stated, “University public health officials, in collaboration with local and state public health authorities, are performing contact tracing to identify and notify any individuals who may have been in close contact with this employee.”

Monday, April 20, 2020: As the surge continues so do the number of COVID-19 diagnoses and deaths in Mass. in addition to an update on the contact tracing initiative.

According to Monday’s report from Mass.gov, there has been an 1,566 case increase in diagnoses of COVID-19 in Mass. along with 103 new deaths. The totals in each category as the surge continues are 39,643 and 1,809, respectively. Additionally, it was divulged in Monday’s report that data has indicated the average age for contracting the virus is 54, while the average age for being hospitalized due to the virus is 68 and death is 81. The overwhelming majority of deaths were in individuals with underlying conditions.

On Monday afternoon, Gov. Charlie Baker shared a New York Times article describing the updated progress on the state’s contact tracing initiative. The program is designed to bring comfort and clarity to those recently who have recently come into contact with the virus and to help centralize the virus as much as possible.

Sunday, April 19, 2020: Number of COVID-19 cases along with the number of deaths continues to intensify in Massachusetts as the surge progresses.

Sunday’s coronavirus update of Massachusetts, which can be found on Mass.gov, there were a reported 1705 new cases and 146 deaths. The counties most affected are Suffolk and Middlesex, while the least are Nantucket and Bristol.

According to Boston’s Mayor, Marty Walsh, the age group with the highest number of cases in Boston are people under 40 years old.

Saturday, April 18, 2020: As the surge continues the number of COVID-19 cases and death count in Mass. continue to rise Gov. Charlie Baker announces the distribution of masks to all EMS responders in the state.

Mass.gov reports that there are now 36,372 cases of COVID-19 in Massachusetts, a 1,970 case increase from Friday. Additionally, 156 new deaths were reported, most of the victims were between the ages of 60 and 90. The total death count is 1,560 in the state.

Gov. Charlie Baker announced during Saturday’s briefing, that 200,000 respirator masks would be distributed to all EMS responders across the state via regional distribution “PODS”.

Friday, April 17, 2020: Gov. Charlie Baker announces that Massachusetts is in a surge as the number of COVID-19 cases within the state continues to escalate.

Friday’s report from Mass.gov indicates that the number of coronavirus cases in the state is now at 34,402, or a new 2,221 cases reported alongside 159 more individuals succumbing to the disease. This data is a result of Massachusetts starting to undergo a “surge”, a topic Gov. Charlie Baker touched upon on Friday’s press conference

Additionally, the state has begun releasing data on reported coronavirus cases by hospital facility and town or city. The cities with the highest numbers are Boston, Brockton, and Worcester. The town of Amherst has reported 11 cases thus far.

Thursday, April 16, 2020: Over 2,000 cases of COVID-19 emerge in Mass. as the state prepares for a surge in cases.

According to Thursday’s report from Mass.gov, there are now 32,181 cases of the Coronavirus in the state, a 2,263 case increase from Wednesday. Moreover, 137 new deaths were reported, bringing the total to 1,245. Most of the victims were between the ages of 60 and 80.

The surge is expected to hit the state on April 28, according to recent data. In Gov. Baker’s press conference on Thursday afternoon, he discussed the distribution of PPE equipment. During the briefing, he announced that 2.2 million gloves, over 850,000 masks, over 180,000 gowns, and 380 ventilators will be distributed across the state.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020: As the amount of COVID-19 cases rise across the country, more than 1,000 cases emerge in Mass. 

Mass.gov reports there are now 29,918 cases of the virus in Massachusetts, which makes that a 1,755 increase from Tuesday, April 14. Additionally, 151 new deaths have been reported, which bring that to a total of 1,108.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020: Number of COVID-19 cases in Mass. continue to escalate, UMass announces a virtual celebration to honor the class of 2020 and a team of scientists are working in the campus laboratories to make diagnostic chemicals for COVID-19 testing.

Tuesday’s report from Mass.gov indicates that there has been a 1,296 case increase in diagnoses of the virus and a 113 case increase in deaths. Bringing each of the totals in Massachusetts to 28,163 and 957, respectively.

Late Tuesday afternoon, UMass’ COVID-19 update announced that a “virtual celebration” will be held on May 8 to celebrate the class of 2020, the day that graduation was supposed to occur. “This online event on the day that commencement would have occurred is not a substitute for an on-campus celebration,” which will occur once the social distancing restrictions are lifted, the announcement states. Students are encouraged to order their regalia from Jostens, which will be delivered free of charge. Orders must be placed by April 17 in order to receive in time for the celebration on May 8.

Additionally, the update announced that a volunteer team of scientists are working at UMass to prepare thousands of vials of viral transport media, a chemical needed to diagnose COVID-19. These chemical preparations are being used across the state; at Baystate Health, Berkshire Medical Center, Cooley Dickinson Health Care, Harrington Hospital, Heywood Hospital, Holyoke Hospital and the Northampton VA.

Monday, April 13, 2020: Number of COVID-19 cases in Mass. continues to intensify, as Gov. Baker advocates for more efficient testing and announces new efforts for the state to receive medical equipment in preparation for the surge in cases.

The number of new coronavirus cases has increased to 26,867, with 1392 new cases confirmed in Monday’s report on Mass.gov. 88 deaths were also reported, with one victim in their 30s, but the majority are above the age of 70. The hardest-hit counties thus far have been Middlesex and Suffolk, respectively.

Gov. Baker began his press conference Monday afternoon by discussing the impact of Monday’s wind and rainstorms across the state. Gov. Baker advocated for household and individual preparedness in case power goes out, and if that happens the state had made arrangements to maintain social distancing while fixing outages. He also noted the coming weeks will be difficult for everyone across the state. 

The state has a new website for showing where PPE equipment is going across Massachusetts. FEMA has supplied the state with 200 additional ventilators. There is a new program, the Manufacturing emergency response team, which is working with local businesses to help them produce more PPE and medical equipment. In situations where triaging is necessary, a new framework called crisis standards of care clarification is promoting diversity of those at hospitals making decisions to remove bias against marginalized groups was clarified on Monday. 50% of all hospital beds are filled throughout the state, which means there is still space in hospitals for when the surge worsens in late April. 

Gov. Baker also believes there needs to be significantly more testing, much faster, if only for the purpose of surveillance and understanding how the virus is spread. Massachusetts is also moving to prevent the healthcare system to become totally overwhelmed by coronavirus during the surge, pointing to Italy as an example of where it went wrong.

Sunday, April 12, 2020: Over 2200 cases emerge as the effects of the virus intensify across Mass.

According to Sunday’s report from Mass.gov, 2,256 cases of the virus have emerged, contributing to a total of 25,475 cases, in addition to 70 more deaths. One of which was in his 30s but had a pre-existing condition, the majority of the fatalities were in the 60-90 age bracket.

Saturday, April 11, 2020: Numbers of COVID-19 cases in Mass. continue to escalate, Gov. Baker announces new plan for sterilizing PPE equipment and new testing sites for essential workers.

On Saturday, 1,886 new coronavirus cases and 86 additional deaths were reported on Mass.gov, bringing the totals to 22,860 cases and 686 deaths, respectively. 

Mid-Saturday morning, the Baker-Polito administration held a press conference at Somerville’s new PPE decontamination facility. During this conference, Baker stressed Massachusetts is still preparing for the surge in cases, which is predicted to occur later this month. In particular, they are trying to find and/or decontaminate PPE equipment. This effort will be aided by Batelle’s decontamination unit in Somerville which can decontaminate 80,000-90,000 masks per day for free through a contract with the federal government. This unit has been tested over a number of years and achieves a 6 log kill rate, better known as sterilization. 

Other news announced at the conference includes new services for Spanish speakers including text notifications about COVID-19 and the MASS unemployment form in Spanish, and grocery store workers can now be tested for free at Gillette Stadium and the BIG E fairgrounds. Baker also updated reporters on the state’s request for 1,000 ventilators, where they have already received 200 and will receive 200 more from the federal government.

Friday, April 10, 2020: A surge in COVID-19 cases is expected to hit Massachusetts next week, as the numbers continue to intensify and Gov. Charlie Baker issues another stay-at-home advisory.

According to Friday’s update on Mass.gov, there are now 20,974 cases of COVID-19 in Massachusetts. Additionally, there were 96 deaths, bringing the death count to 599.

On Friday afternoon, Gov. Charlie Baker issued another stay-at-home advisory for residents as the state prepares for a surge in cases within the next week. In his statement, he stated that “Residents should stay home and avoid going outside except for essential activities, like going to the grocery store and pharmacy.” Hospitals across the state have been prepping by adding extra beds to their acute care and ICU suites.

Thursday, April 9, 2020: Over 2000 new cases of COVID-19 emerge as the UMass Amherst Costume Shop creates hundreds of cloth masks to mitigate the scarcity of PPE equipment for non-emergency healthcare workers.

Thursday’s update from Mass.gov reports that there are now 18,941 cases of COVID-19 in Mass. Along with 70 new deaths confirmed, bring the total death count to 503.

According to UMass’ daily coronavirus update, the UMass Amherst Costume Shop is in the process of creating hundreds of cloth masks for the healthcare workers working in local nursing homes, veterinary clinics, emergency responders and food bank workers and to help with the shortage in PPE equipment. When Kristin Jensen and Felicia Malachite of the university’s department of Theater, learned about the PPE equipment in non-emergent facilities as aforementioned being moved to local human hospitals, they decided to try to alleviate the scarcity.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020: Number of COVID-19 cases in Mass. intensifies and UMass announces changes to spring and summer programs.

There are now 16,790 cases of COVID-19 in Massachusetts, according to the daily report from Mass.gov. Additionally, there were 77 new deaths reported, which bring the total amount to 433.

According to UMass’ daily coronavirus update, spring and summer programs have been adjusted to fit life amid the pandemic. The update stated, “In light of the current state and federal restrictions and guidelines regarding gatherings and events in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the university has made the difficult decision to suspend, cancel or convert to virtual much of its spring and summer programming.”

While many programs have been converted to virtual events, some of the canceled programs include conference services (until May 31), the Chancellor’s Citation Awards, the Gerald Scanlon Student Employee Awards, all Mullins Center events (through the end of May) and the Spring Concert.

Students can view the full announcement on the UMass Amherst COVID-19 page.

Tuesday, April 7, 2020: Over 1300 new COVID-19 cases are confirmed in Massachusetts as Gov. Charlie Baker announces new testing sites in the state.

1365 new cases of coronavirus were diagnosed on Tuesday, according to data published on Mass.gov the same day, increasing the total to 15,202 cases within Massachusetts. An additional 96 deaths were confirmed, with one individual being in their 40s, eleven in their 60s, 25 in their 70s, the majority-34 in their 80s, and 23 in their 90s, and three in their 100s. It is unclear how many of those deaths occurred on Tuesday, as the report included deaths that happened over the weekend but were only just confirmed.

In a mid-afternoon press conference on Tuesday, Gov. Charlie Baker announced a number of new ways the state is testing patients and supporting the medical community. MassHealth, the states’ insurance agency, will receive 800 million dollars in additional funding from now until throughout July. Half of this amount will go to hospital funding. The state is continuing the Nursing Home Mobile Testing Program, where the Massachusetts National Guard. They are also introducing the choice for nursing homes to send in samples rather than have testing be done in person. In addition, the state is working to keep families of nursing home residents informed with a new resource line that operates during weekday business hours. Massachusetts is joining Rhode Island and Georgia in having a free, drive-through, CVS rapid testing site. While there is currently a pilot testing site in Shrewsbury (which will soon be closed), this new site will be located in Lowell. 

Monday, April 6, 2020: Numbers of COVID-19 cases continue to rise exponentially in Mass. and Gov. Charlie Baker announces the launch of the COVID-19 Relief Fund.

Monday’s report from Mass.gov states that there are now 13,857 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Mass. There were 29 deaths, which brings the death count to 260.

On Monday afternoon, Gov. Charlie Baker with his wife, Lauren Baker, announced the launch of the COVID-19 Relief Fund. According to the press release, the fund has raised $13 million and will be used to support frontline healthcare workers, households disproportionately affected by the virus, immigrants and undocumented civilians, people with disabilities, and the homeless population. The fund’s website allows those living in Massachusetts to make direct donations to the cause.

Sunday, April 5, 2020: Number of COVID-19 cases in Mass. continues to escalate and UMass employee tests positive for the virus. 

The latest Mass.gov report reveals there are now 12,500 cases in Massachusetts. There were 15 new deaths, which brings the total to 231.

In an email to the UMass community on Sunday, Jeff Hescock, the executive director of emergency management, and George Corey, M.D., the executive director of university health services, revealed that one UMass employee has tested positive for COVID-19. According to the email, the employee, who works for dining services in Blue Wall Café, was last on campus Thursday, April 2. As a result, “The Blue Wall has been closed until further notice. The university will perform enhanced cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting of the facility,” wrote Hescock and Corey.

Although “There are currently no additional confirmed cases on campus as a result of this exposure,” Hescock and Corey urged the community to continue following the recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and to contact the COVID-19 HR Response Team at 413-687-2283 or [email protected]. if they have any concerns about potential exposure.

Saturday, April 4, 2020: COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Mass.

According to Mass.gov, the number of confirmed cases is at 11,736, with 1,334 new cases confirmed in Saturday’s report. There were 24 new deaths, with the majority of victims being in their 80s and 90s. The most impacted age groups are 50-59, 30-39, and 40-49, respectively. Additionally, Middlesex and Suffolk are the counties with the highest number of cases.

Friday, April 3, 2020: UMass engineers and nurses design face shields to combat the shortage of PPE equipment in Health Care, Gov. Charlie Baker announces contact tracing tool initiative as the number of COVID-19 cases continues to escalate.

According to Friday’s report from Mass.gov, 1436 new cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed since Thursday’s report, to total 10402 cases. With 38 new deaths reported, the death count in Mass. has risen to 192.

On Friday afternoon, UMass announced their design for face shield masks to combat the shortage of PPE equipment within the Health Care field. In the video describing the face shields, Frank Sup, an associate professor of Industrial and Mechanical Engineering, who is one of the engineers that helped to design the product explains how it attaches at the forehead and is meant to be used in conjunction with an N95 mask, but to replace goggles. Furthermore, the face shield can be produced by paper packaging company materials, making it low in cost and easier to mass-produce. Professor Sup elaborates that the university “expects to have 80,000 face shields produced by the middle of April when the virus is expected to peak.”

Friday Gov. Charlie Baker, announced the contact tracing tool initiative to deploy nearly 1000 individuals to trace confirmed COVID-19 cases. It is the first of its kind in the nation. According to the announcement, “The initiative will focus on tracing the contacts of confirmed positive COVID-19 patients, and supporting individuals in quarantine, and builds on the efforts already underway from the Command Center to leverage public health college students to augment the contact tracing being done by local boards of health.”

Thursday, April 2, 2020: Over 1,200 new cases of COVID-19 emerge in Mass. as the death toll rises and the Vice-Chancellor of Student Affairs shares a video with students encouraging them to connect with loved ones via telecommunication.

Thursday’s report from Mass.gov, shows a 1228 case increase from Friday, bringing the total number of cases in Mass. to 8966. Additionally, there were 32 new deaths; the total number of individuals that have passed away as a result of COVID-19 is 154.

Thursday afternoon, the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs & Campus Life Brandi Hephner LaBanc sent an email with a video to students. In the video, she encourages students to reach out to each other, along with reconnecting with loved ones during this period of uncertainty. And how “social distancing does not mean remaining socially isolated.”

Wednesday, April 1, 2020: Numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Mass. continues to climb exponentially, as Gov. Charlie Baker announces new medical center openings and UMass formulates two Emergency Response funds for students.

In Mass.gov’s coronavirus report from Wednesday noted 1118 new cases, in addition to 33 new deaths. Out of the 33 reported deaths, the majority of whom were over the age of 70, one individual in their 30s with pre-existing conditions also passed away.

During Gov. Charlie Baker’s third press release this week, at 3 p.m. on Wednesday. He confirmed that the national guard has tested all residents and is currently testing the staff of Holyoke Soldiers Home, using their recently formed mobile testing unit, which Gov Baker expects will be utilized to test nursing homes across the state. Attorney Mark Perlstein will also be investigating the deaths at Holyoke Soldiers Home. Massachusetts is opening a new Field Medical Center in the Worcester DCU Convention with 250 beds. To aid this effort, UMass Medical School graduated its third-year medical students yesterday, who will be working at the DCU Center. This will be one of three field hospitals, the second one will be at Boston’s BCEC and the search for the third is still underway. 

According to Wednesday’s UMass update has recently formed two separate Emergency Response funds: one for students impacted financially by Coronavirus, to apply students are encouraged to contact the Dean of Students Office, and another for members of the Massachusetts Society of Professors. On-campus, all building entrances will be locked starting April 6th, but faculty and staff will still have the same levels of access using their UCard. Students staying on campus will be able to continue accessing their dorms, the dining halls, and the Campus Center.

Tuesday, March 31, 2020: As the number of cases in Mass. exceed 6000, Gov. Charlie Baker extends non-essential business closures.

According to Mass.gov, there are now 6620 cases of COVID-19 in Massachusetts. An additional 33 deaths have occurred, bringing the total to 89.

The Baker administration announced earlier Tuesday that the essential services order will be extended until May 4, rather than the original date of April 7. As stated by the governor’s press release, non-essential businesses “are to continue operations through remote means that do not require workers, customers, or the public to enter or appear at the brick-and-mortar premises closed by the order. This order also prohibits gatherings of more than 10 people until May 4th.”

Monday, March 30, 2020: Almost 800 confirmed COVID-19 cases emerge in Mass. and a UMass professor finds that medical masks can be safely reused.

Monday’s report on Mass.gov indicated that the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases is at 5752 now in the state; a 797 case increase from Sunday. Hampshire county currently has a total of 49 cases of the virus. An additional eight individuals have passed away, as a result, the majority of whom were in their 70s and 80s.

As hospitals are becoming inundated with patients, many are running out of protective gear. This past weekend news surfaced that, Richard Peltier, an Environmental Science professor at UMass had proven that N95 masks can be safely reused by healthcare professionals. Similar to surgical tools, they would have to undergo hydrogen peroxide sterilization which may lead to slight wear and tear on the mask. But that they are still equally effective when reused.

Sunday, March 29, 2020: Death counts rise as the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases brushes 5,000 and Gov. Charlie Baker announces the launch of a portal for Personal Protective Equipment.

According to Mass.gov, the number of Coronavirus cases on Sunday is now at 4955 cases; a 16 percent increase from Saturday. The counties with the highest number of confirmed cases are Middlesex, Suffolk, and Essex. Additionally, there have been four new deaths, bringing the death toll to 48 people.

The Baker administration announced earlier on Sunday, the creation of a portal on Mass.gov, which will be used by organizations and individuals to have one specific place to donate or sell Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA). 

Saturday, March 28, 2020: Number of confirmed COVID-19 cases continues to jump in Mass. and students receive an alert about a phishing scam.

In Saturday’s COVID-19 report on Mass.gov, 4,257 individuals have been diagnosed with coronavirus or an increase of 1017 cases. An additional nine people have passed away from the virus, the majority of whom were in their 80s and 90s. 

In an email sent out on Saturday afternoon, UMass informed its community about a phishing scam where an email, subjected “Payroll Schedule”, that looked like it had been sent by the university, attempted to steal the user’s Net ID and password by using a link to a fake login page. It requested that community members do not respond to the email and if they already had to change their Net ID passwords. 

Friday, March 27, 2020: Over 3,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 now in Mass., Gov. Charlie Baker orders new statewide regulations and UMass announces refunds for students with on-campus room and board fees and costs.

Friday’s report on coronavirus cases within Massachusetts from Mass.gov, indicated that the number of diagnosed cases has risen to 3,240 cases or a roughly 34% increase from Thursday. An additional ten deaths have occurred, all of the individuals were over the age of 60.

During a press conference at 11 a.m. on Friday, Gov. Charlie Baker issued new restrictions on those who are traveling to Massachusetts or returning from out of state destinations to self-quarantine for 14 days. The deadline for filing the past year’s individual income tax is now the same date as the deadline for filing the federal individual income tax, July 15. Its previous deadline was April 15th.

Massachusetts is also introducing a number of changes to who can practice medicine, in the hopes of better-combating the coronavirus. Eligible fourth-year medical students will be able to graduate early. Doctors who have graduated but are still receiving post-graduate training will now be issued Emergency 90-Day Medical Licenses to practice medicine. An increased number of experienced nurse practitioners will now be able to prescribe medications. The state is also introducing the 1135 waiver for Medicare and Medicaid to reduce barriers to coverage and allow for faster coverage for those applying. The state has also instituted MA Response, a volunteer-based medical program and is encouraging residents to use Buoy, to check their symptoms against corona’s and streamline resources.  

Early Friday afternoon, Andrew Mangels, the Vice-Chancellor of Administration and Finance sent an email to the student population formally announcing changes to the student room and board fees and costs for on-campus students for the Spring 2020 semester. According to the email, this decision was made by President Meehan and Chancellor Subbaswamy as a result of the COVID-19 crisis and the fact that many students had to move off-campus by March 22, in accordance with the safety precautions. UMass will grant the cost adjustment to students’ university accounts by April 17. The credit will be applied to any unpaid charges first, and then students will be given the choice of putting the money towards next semester’s bill, taking a cash refund. If a student, to whom this concerns, takes no action a check will be issued to them in the matter of a month. A similar refund process will be applied for on-campus parking fees.

Thursday, March 26, 2020: Number of confirmed COVID-19 cases continues to escalate in Mass., UMass announces the offering of several virtual mental health programs, remote workout classes and many other programs.

According to Thursday’s report from Mass.gov, there are now 2417 cases of Coronavirus in Massachusetts, an increase of 579 cases from Wednesday. There were an additional 10 ten new deaths from the virus Thursday, with seven of those who died having known pre-existing conditions. And the majority of victims being between the ages of 70 and 90.

According to UMass’ daily coronavirus update, there are 577 students continuing to reside on campus. While a number of staff are continuing to work on campus, using a new rotation schedule and staggering shifts.

The university has also begun offering virtual mental health services including a free one month trial to a meditation service, Journey Live Meditation (signing up just requires a netID), on Fridays there is an online support group to help students struggling mentally as a result of the pandemic called “Coping with Covid”. Additionally, UMass alumnae Molly Keehn, Ed.D, and Karl Henricksen are offering two info sessions of their 12-week mental wellbeing program, CoJourn, to the campus community. CoJourn is “a personal development program that trains pairs of people to partner up for more external accountability, connection, and support as they pursue goals.” The info sessions are scheduled for April 2, at 7 p.m., and April 3, at 1:30 p.m, and to be conducted via Zoom. These are just a few of the many programs being offered to aide the campus community during these uncertain times.

A number of departments have started to offer virtual events and programming. The campus rec center is now offering virtual workout classes along with IMB League Tournaments for a number of video games such as FIFA and NBA2K. The LRC is offering virtual supplemental instruction and tutoring, and the student success toolkit. Finally, a number of centers including Stonewall, CMASS, and Off-campus student life are offering virtual support and events. 

Wednesday, March 25, 2020: More than 700 new cases of the virus emerge in Massachusetts, Gov. Charlie Baker closes all public schools until May 4 and orders new safety precautions for grocery stores and pharmacies and Chancellor Subbaswamy shares an encouraging update.

In Wednesday’s report on Mass.gov, the number of diagnosed coronavirus cases has risen to 1,838 cases, an increase of approximately 59 percent from yesterday, along with four new deaths. All of the victims were in their 70s and 80s and three out of the four victims had confirmed pre-existing conditions.

Gov. Charlie Baker issued new orders Wednesday afternoon to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19. He announced that all public schools in Massachusetts will remain closed until May 4. Additionally, he ordered more precautions to protect the elderly and other high-risk customers in grocery stores and pharmacies including, providing one-hour per day for adults over 60 years old, and designating a “Social Distancing Line” where customers maintain a six-feet distance from each other.

Chancellor Subbaswamy’s update Wednesday afternoon noted the UMASS Amherst community’s accomplishment of transitioning to online learning and faculty and staff member’s “contributions to the broader community response to the COVID 19 crisis [such as] staff gather[ing] medical equipment to donate to healthcare workers.” Ending his update, Subaswammy stated his confidence in the community’s resiliency and its “revolutionary spirit” throughout these difficult times.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020: The number of cases in Massachusetts rapidly grows overnight and UMass suspends move-out plans following Gov. Charlie Baker’s stay at home advisory.

According to Mass.gov, there are now 1,159 cases of the virus in Massachusetts.

Following Gov. Charlie Baker’s stay at home advisory from yesterday, UMass Residential Life notified students that the move-out process will be suspended until April 7. Jean Ahlstrand MacKimmie, director of residence education, and Dawn M. Bond, director of residential operations, wrote, “When the stay-at-home advisory is lifted, we will reassess any new guidelines before reinstating the sequenced move-out process for all remaining resident.”

While they will continue to update the community, students are encouraged to contact Residential Life Student Services at [email protected] with any questions and/or concerns.

Monday, March 23, 2020: More than 100 more cases of the virus emerge in Massachusetts, Governor Charlie Baker orders a stay at home advisory and all non-essential businesses to stop in-person operation and UMass begins remote learning for the remainder of the semester.  

The latest Mass.gov report reveals there are now 777 cases of COVID-19 in Massachusetts.

In a press conference, Gov. Charlie Baker announced that a stay at home advisory will take effect Tuesday, March 24, at noon, and all non-essential businesses will be closed for the next two weeks. As stated by the governor’s press release, “Due to evolving spread of COVID-19 in Massachusetts, Governor Baker has directed the Department of Public Health to issue a stay at home advisory outlining self-isolation and social distancing protocols. Residents are advised to stay home and avoid unnecessary travel and other unnecessary activities during this two-week time period.”

Monday, UMass students began online classes via Zoom meetings, Moodle assignments and various other methods of remote learning. Additionally, eCampus, which is the official bookstore for UMass, has partnered with VitalSource to help students access a range of textbooks this semester. Its website explains, “VitalSource Helps is a program designed to support students and instructors who may have lost access to course materials due to a campus moving to distance learning to prevent the spread of COVID-19.” This partnership will allow UMass students to access ebooks until May 25, 2020.

Sunday, March 22, 2020: COVID-19 is targeting people of all ages, UMass announces option for Pass/Fail grading for the remainder of the Spring 2020 term and encourages self-quarantine for two weeks for those returning from Spring Break trips.

According to Sunday’s report from Mass.gov, the number of cases of the virus in Massachusetts is steadily increasing to today’s total of 646. Furthermore, the data shows that those contracting the virus is not restricted to one age group. Everyone is susceptible to it, regardless of age: 18 people under the age of 19 have been infected by the virus, while 93 people in the 20-29 age demographic, 112 individuals ages 30-39, 134 people ages 40-49 and 119 people ages 50-59 and 170 people over the age of 60.

On Saturday, UMass sent out an announcement regarding the option for students to choose Pass/Fail for all classes with a letter grade until April 29, with no penalty. The previous guidelines concerning the number of Pass/Fail classes a student is allowed to take to graduate has been suspended for the remainder of the Spring 2020 term. Graduating seniors will have up to six months after graduation to choose Pass/Fail for any of their classes before their grades are “locked in.”

Sunday, in an email to off-campus students, UMass encouraged those returning from Spring Break trips to the Amherst area or other communities practice a two-week self-quarantine, to protect those around them from contracting the virus. And those that were not, to practice safety precautions during this turbulent time such as social distancing and limited social gatherings.

Saturday, March 21, 2020: Two cases of COVID-19 are now confirmed in Hampshire County as there is the biggest increase in cases in the state.

Saturday’s report from Mass.gov documented two confirmed cases of  COVID-19 in Hampshire County. In Massachusetts, there are now 525 reported cases of the virus, an 112 case increase from Friday.

Friday, March 20, 2020: Number of confirmed COVID-19 cases continues to rise as first death is reported, while young adults are exhibiting severe symptoms from the virus and UMass shares a dining update for the remainder of the semester.

According to Friday’s report from Mass.gov, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases continues to escalate with an 84 case increase from Thursday. There are now 413 cases in Massachusetts.

Friday morning, there was speculation that a state shutdown was going to occur this coming weekend after reports arose of the first death in the state, and California shutting down Thursday night. Gov. Charlie Baker denied that rumor in his daily update and assured the public that he did not have current plans to shut the state down this weekend.

There has also been a myth surfacing in which young adults cannot contract the virus. Specifically, that only people who are compromised and a part of the elderly population are at risk. That is incorrect. According to new information surfacing, many young adults are experiencing severe symptoms: such as body aches, high temperatures, extreme fatigue, temporary hearing loss and an incredibly raw throat.

In the daily update email, UMass Amherst shared an update regarding dining halls in order to provide meals for students with extenuating circumstances who are allowed to stay on campus as well as the necessary remaining employees. Starting March 23, Berkshire and Worcester Dining Commons will be open daily from 7 a.m. until 9 p.m., and The Blue Wall will also be open daily from 8 a.m. until 9 p.m. All meals will be take-out only.

Thursday, March 19, 2020: Number of COVID-19 cases jumps as the first case is confirmed in Hampshire County; UMass Residence Hall alerts students to a new move-out process

The latest report from Mass.gov, shows a 72 case increase, with the first case reported in Hampshire County. The number of cases of COVID-19 in Massachusetts is now 328.

Thursday morning, UMass Amherst announced their Residence Hall Move-Out plan to allow for social distancing while the campus community gathers their belongings. According to the instructions, students will need to log into their Spire account and make a reservation to move out of their dorm room, this coming weekend March 21 or 22, under the Residential Life tab. Students will be allotted a two-hour time block which they will be granted card access to their residence hall and will be expected to leave their room key in the envelope taped to their door.

For students who have already packed and are not planning to return to campus are encouraged to reply to the email that was sent with any questions that they have or to use the information on their website for mailing back their key. The deadline to return keys is March 23 at 5 p.m.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020: Number of COVID-19 cases in Mass. jumps, social distancing doesn’t exist during Spring Break, more colleges are switching to Pass/Fail grading for the remainder of the semester and UMass reveals new Response Team.

According to Mass.gov, there are now 256 cases of the virus in Massachusetts. Since Tuesday, 38 new cases have emerged.

While some people are spending Spring Break distancing themselves from others, large groups of people are still gathering at beaches and bars. Many are college students who either refused to cancel the plans that they made months in advance, or they don’t believe the severity of the virus. While some beaches and bars are shutting down as per the advice of local, state and federal officials, many students expressed their frustration, arguing, “Whatever happens, happens.”

As colleges across the country have decided to transition to remote learning, many are also switching their grading system to Pass/Fail. One blog is even keeping track of which schools have decided to change their standard grading system. You can also stay up to date by checking the blog’s hashtag on Twitter: #PassFailNation.

While UMass has yet to announce any decision on adjusting its grading system, a new HR Response Team has been created to address concerns of exposure among students, faculty and staff. Those who are concerned about possible exposure to COVID-19 should contact the University Health Services Triage Advice Nurse at (413) 577-5229 for further guidance, this includes students who have already gone home and “test positive in the future.”

The email also advised all campus personnel “who are concerned about potential exposure because they believe an employee has tested positive, is presumptive positive, or has been in contact with someone they think has been infected by the coronavirus,” should contact the COVID-19 HR Response Team at (413)-687-2283 or [email protected]

Tuesday, March 17, 2020: As the number of cases in Massachusetts grows, UMass postpones commencement. 

As of Tuesday, March 17, there are 197 cases in Massachusetts. The number rose from 164 to 197 by Monday, but according to the Boston Globe, the amount might be much greater. The Globe reported that scientists Jeffrey Shaman and Samuel Scarpino, who are studying the growth of the COVID-19 virus, explain that these numbers don’t account for people who are either infected but haven’t been tested or present mild to almost no symptoms yet. 

Shaman’s research, which studied where pandemic began in Wuhan, China, warns citizens “that ‘stealth transmissions’ from seemingly healthy people were responsible for the explosive speed of the outbreak.” In other words, Shaman’s findings urge social distancing to prevent the communal spreading of the virus.

Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy notified students via email that commencement 2020 will be postponed. He wrote, “because of the ongoing prohibition of large gatherings and our own efforts to mitigate the spread of coronavirus/COVID-19, commencement, which was scheduled for Friday, May 8th, and all commencement weekend activities, will be postponed.”

Subbaswamy explained that, while there is currently no plan for how commencement will run, he is open to ideas from the community. “I work with our commencement team to develop alternative plans, I invite input from our students for whom this day means so much,” wrote Subbaswamy. “Those wishing to share ideas can email them to commencement@umass.edu. As our plans take shape, we will keep the campus updated.”

Tuesday, March 17, 2020: Happy St. Patrick’s Day. The bars are closed.

And that’s okay, because you should all be social distancing. Read about it here.

Monday, March 16, 2020: News about internships

Are you doing an internship this semester? Here’s an update from Whitmore.

On Monday, March 16, Senior Vice Provost Carol Barr announced that students performing internships that are NOT REQUIRED by any accrediting or licensure body should work with their internship sponsor and host employer on either working remotely from home or an alternative independent study approach with their faculty/academic unit to complete their internship for credit.

“If the student is currently in residential housing on either the UMass Amherst or Mount Ida campus they should return home,” she wrote in a memo to deans and department chairs. “If they have personal circumstances preventing them from returning home they should indicate this need for housing through the Residential Life communication that will be sent to all students who have a residence hall assignment. Questions can be emailed to [email protected]

Also from the memo:

“Students on clinicals, internships, student teaching practicums REQUIRED by their accrediting, licensure bodies will receive communications from their UMass Amherst academic areas and program directors on whether these experiences will continue (based on the protocol being used by the host site and if the student feels safe in continuing).

Students in these required experiences should work directly with their program coordinators on information and instructions surrounding the students’ placement.  Students who will continue in their current placement and who are living in a residential hall on the UMass Amherst campus will be allowed to continue to live on campus if by returning home their home location is too far away from their clinical, internship, practicum site.  A communication from Residential Life will be sent to these students with a link to request continuation of their housing assignment. If the student has any questions they can email [email protected]

Monday, March 16, 2020: State reports first official case in Hampden County

Since COVID-19’s first case arrival into Massachusetts a little over a week ago via a medical conference in Boston, the number of those infected has been steadily climbing. As of today, March 16, 2020, the total number of cases confirmed and documented by state officials amounts to 197, with a total of 14 hospitalized.

On Sunday, the first case in Hampden County was confirmed, having been treated at Baystate Medical Center. According to local news sources, the patient is stable and now at home. The hospital declined to give any further information. There have still been no reported cases in Franklin or Hampshire counties of western Mass.

Sunday, March 15, 2020: UMass switches to online learning for the remainder of the semester.

AMHERST–As students departed from campus for Spring Break on Friday, March 13, more questions than answers loomed about what’s going to happen this semester, with courses, fees, graduation and other spring traditions. All we know right now is that remote learning will continue until the end of the semester.

Friday night, Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy sent an email and accompanying video notifying both faculty and students of the decision to suspend in-person classes for the remainder of the semester.

All classes are now “without exception,” transitioning online. 

This means the only people allowed on campus are “weather-designated essential personnel.” Students who are allowed to live on campus during Spring Break are being asked to leave by March 21. As for the rest of the student body, updates will be sent out shortly.

“Student Affairs and Campus Life will provide more information next week, including details on procedures for how students can request on-going accommodations and how students may return to campus at a later date to retrieve their belongings,” wrote Subbaswamy. 

This move comes as a growing number of colleges around the country have taken similar actions, while public health officials are urging increased “social distancing” to curtail the spread of COVID-19 virus.

Please check back for more information. We’ll be updating daily.

Email Joanna at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @JBuoniconti

Email Brianna Silva at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @brisilvv.

Email Talia at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @HeiseyTalia

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