Harvard President Bacow Tests Positive for Coronavirus


University President Lawrence S. Bacow has tested positive for COVID-19, he announced in an email to Harvard affiliates Tuesday.

Bacow wrote that he and his wife, Adele F. Bacow, learned they tested positive for the virus Tuesday afternoon after first experiencing symptoms on Sunday. He wrote they experienced coughing, followed by fevers, chills, and muscle aches.

He added that the pair contacted their doctors on Monday and received tests the same day.

“We were tested yesterday and just received the results a few minutes ago,” Bacow wrote. “We wanted to share this news with all of you as soon as possible.”


Bacow wrote that they do not know how they contracted the virus, but have been working from home and limiting contact with others since March 14.

“Neither of us knows how we contracted the virus, but the good news—if there is any to be had—is that far fewer people crossed our paths recently than is usually the case,” he wrote. “We began working from home and completely limiting our contact with others on March 14 in keeping with recommendations to adopt social distancing measures.

As of Tuesday afternoon, 18 Harvard affiliates have tested positive for COVID-19, according to Harvard University Health Services. Last Tuesday, Bacow announced classes would move online after spring break and encouraged students to not return to campus. College students were required to vacate their dorms by Sunday, and staff in some parts of the University — including the Central Administration — began a pilot work-from-home system the following day.

Bacow’s Tuesday email stated that Department of Public Health authorities will reach out to his close contacts in accordance with health protocols.

COVID-19 has an estimated incubation period of 1 to 14 days, after which an infected person will start displaying symptoms, according to the World Health Organization.

Bacow wrote in his email that the virus can “lay anyone low,” adding that University affiliates should be “vigilant” and follow guidelines to limit 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,” he wrote.

He concluded by writing he hopes students are taking precautions as advised by public health experts.

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

—Staff writer Michelle G. Kurilla can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @MichelleKurilla.

—Staff writer Ruoqi Zhang can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @RuoqiZhang3.