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Harvard president tests positive for coronavirus

Harvard President Lawrence S. Bacow
Harvard President Lawrence S. BacowLane Turner/Globe Staff/file

Harvard President Lawrence S. Bacow said Tuesday that he and his wife have tested positive for the coronavirus.

Bacow confirmed the tests results in a statement posted Tuesday to the school’s website.

“Earlier today, Adele and I learned that we tested positive for COVID-19. We started experiencing symptoms on Sunday—first coughs then fevers, chills, and muscle aches—and contacted our doctors on Monday,” Bacow said. “We were tested yesterday and just received the results a few minutes ago. We wanted to share this news with all of you as soon as possible.”

He said neither he nor his spouse knows how they contracted the virus.

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“We began working from home and completely limiting our contact with others on March 14 in keeping with recommendations to adopt social distancing measures,” Bacow said. “In line with standard protocols, the Department of Public Health will be in touch with anyone with whom we have had close contact over the past fourteen days.”

Bacow, 68, and his wife will be taking time to rest during their quarantine period, he said.

“I am blessed with a great team, and many of my colleagues will be taking on more responsibility over the next few weeks as Adele and I focus on just getting healthy,” Bacow said. “Thanks, in advance, for your good wishes. Thanks also for your understanding if I am not as responsive to email as I normally am.”

The school president also cautioned that coronavirus can take a toll on anyone.

“This virus can lay anyone low,” Bacow said. “We all need to be vigilant and keep following guidelines to limit our contact with others. Your swift actions over the past few weeks—to respond to the needs of our community, to fulfill our teaching mission, and to pursue research that will save lives—have moved me deeply and made me extraordinarily grateful and proud. I hope to see as few of you in our situation as possible, and I urge you to continue following the guidance of public health experts and the advice and orders of our government officials.”

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Bacow continued, “The world needs your courage, creativity, and intelligence to beat this virus—wishing each of you good health.”

Tuesday’s announcement comes after Bacow said last week that Harvard will hold an online commencement ceremony May 28, to be followed by a traditional cap-and-gown affair once it’s safe to resume gathering in large groups.


Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.