By Leighah Beausoleil
Framingham State University is doubling its COVID-19 testing sample size to 400 FSU community members due to increased positives on campus and the new Omicron variant, according to a Dec. 7 campus-wide email sent by President F. Javier Cevallos.
Cevallos said eight positives were detected out of last week’s 405 tests.
In an interview, Ilene Hofrenning, director of the Health Center, said these positives were not a cluster, but mostly likely the result of students coming back to campus after Thanksgiving break.
Hofrenning said the testing turnout has been approximately “25 to 30%” of the 200 person random-sample size.
In the email, Cevallos said the University “will be offering Dunkin’ Donuts coupons to anyone who comes in to get tested as an extra incentive” starting next week.
He said he encourages students to get the vaccine booster shot and suggested community members go to the MetroWest Pharmacy, which is currently accepting walk-ins, in addition to scheduled appointments.
According to The New York Times, Pfizer lab results have proven its booster is effective against the new Omicron variant.
Hofrenning said there is a lot not known about this new variant because it was only discovered a few weeks ago.
She said what is known so far is that this variant is “much more transmissible” than flu and the virus’ other variants.
“Initial reports seem to indicate that it might not be as severe as the Delta [variant],” she added.
Hofrenning said she had heard it could take two to three months for a new variant to experience a “surge,” adding that it might happen toward the end of January.
She said she doesn’t think the University will require the booster shot, adding it would be to keep track of when students could get their boosters given the different timeframes of eligibility for each given vaccine type.
She added if a decision is made, it will most likely be among all of the Massachusetts state universities.