Seven vaccinated Stanford students tested positive for the coronavirus this week, the university announced on Thursday, days after it loosened COVID testing requirements for inoculated students and staff living on campus.
In an email to students, the university alerted that all of the newly infected students were symptomatic. It did not provide details whether the cases were connected or part of a specific outbreak.
“If you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, please do not just assume that you have the common cold or allergies,” the letter said.
After a year of COVID lockdowns, the campus is home this summer to portions of the freshman and sophomore classes, who were forced to study remotely during the 2020-21 academic year, as well as students with approved special circumstances.
Sina Mohammadi, a freshman from Texas, said he was surprised by Thursday’s news — rumors are already starting to fly among students as to whether the cases originated from a group of friends or are more spread out on campus. He’s taking comfort in the fact that he is vaccinated.
“At least from everything I’ve read, breakthrough cases are not common,” he said. “I’m not too concerned.”
The positive tests come amid a surge in COVID cases in California and across the country predominately among unvaccinated people and fueled by the highly contagious delta variant. Though so-called breakthrough cases are still relatively uncommon, reports are on the rise, most recently with several Olympic hopefuls and multiple state lawmakers in Texas coming down with the virus.
The university has recommended that everyone wear face coverings in crowded indoor spaces, but most physical distancing and masking requirements have been lifted for students who are fully vaccinated. As of Monday, students who have submitted proof of vaccination are no longer required to get tested weekly — and nearly 90% of those coming to campus regularly are vaccinated, according to the university.
The seven positive tests are not necessarily cause for alarm, wrote Vice Provost Susie Brubaker-Cole and Vaden Health Services director Jim Jacobs in the email, but they encouraged students with symptoms to get tested and to not assume such indicators are the common cold or allergies.
“Again, vaccinations are effective at preventing severe illness,” the two wrote. “However, we need everyone to be vigilant. The variants remain of concern.”
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