Harvard’s Bacow, wife test positive for COVID-19

‘Neither of us knows how we contracted the virus,’ he says

HARVARD UNIVERSITY President Larry Bacow said on Tuesday that he and his wife tested positive for COVID-19.

In an email sent to the Harvard community on Tuesday, Bacow said he and his wife began experiencing symptoms on Sunday, contacted their doctors on Monday, and subsequently were tested for the disease. Bacow, 68, said he received the results of the test confirming he and his wife, Adele, had the disease on Tuesday.

“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,” Bacow said in the email. “We began working from home and completely limiting our contact with others on March 14 in keeping with recommendations to adopt social distancing measures. 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.”

“This virus can lay anyone low. 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.”

Bacow was named Harvard’s 29th president in 2018. He previously served for 10 years as president of Tufts University and as chancellor at MIT. He holds a PhD in public policy and a law degree from Harvard.

The son of Jewish immigrant parents – his mother survived the Auschwitz concentration camp – Bacow grew up in the working-class Detroit suburb of Pontiac.

Meet the Author

Bruce Mohl

Editor, CommonWealth

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

Meet the Author

Michael Jonas

Executive Editor, CommonWealth

About Michael Jonas

Michael Jonas has worked in journalism in Massachusetts since the early 1980s. Before joining the CommonWealth staff in early 2001, he was a contributing writer for the magazine for two years. His cover story in CommonWealth's Fall 1999 issue on Boston youth outreach workers was selected for a PASS (Prevention for a Safer Society) Award from the National Council on Crime and Delinquency.

Michael got his start in journalism at the Dorchester Community News, a community newspaper serving Boston's largest neighborhood, where he covered a range of urban issues. Since the late 1980s, he has been a regular contributor to the Boston Globe. For 15 years he wrote a weekly column on local politics for the Boston Sunday Globe's City Weekly section.

Michael has also worked in broadcast journalism. In 1989, he was a co-producer for "The AIDS Quarterly," a national PBS series produced by WGBH-TV in Boston, and in the early 1990s, he worked as a producer for "Our Times," a weekly magazine program on WHDH-TV (Ch. 7) in Boston.

Michael lives in Dorchester with his wife and their two daughters.

About Michael Jonas

Michael Jonas has worked in journalism in Massachusetts since the early 1980s. Before joining the CommonWealth staff in early 2001, he was a contributing writer for the magazine for two years. His cover story in CommonWealth's Fall 1999 issue on Boston youth outreach workers was selected for a PASS (Prevention for a Safer Society) Award from the National Council on Crime and Delinquency.

Michael got his start in journalism at the Dorchester Community News, a community newspaper serving Boston's largest neighborhood, where he covered a range of urban issues. Since the late 1980s, he has been a regular contributor to the Boston Globe. For 15 years he wrote a weekly column on local politics for the Boston Sunday Globe's City Weekly section.

Michael has also worked in broadcast journalism. In 1989, he was a co-producer for "The AIDS Quarterly," a national PBS series produced by WGBH-TV in Boston, and in the early 1990s, he worked as a producer for "Our Times," a weekly magazine program on WHDH-TV (Ch. 7) in Boston.

Michael lives in Dorchester with his wife and their two daughters.

He’s been a prominent voice advocating for expanded access to higher education for students from lower-income families. One of his first trips after assuming the Harvard presidency was to Pontiac and Detroit, where spoke with high school students and other groups about the vital role played by higher education in the country.

Though he leads the world’s most prominent — and wealthiest — private university, Bacow has been outspoken on the crucial role of public higher education, which accounts for the overwhelmingly share of US post-secondary degrees. Underscoring that are two solutions-oriented partnerships Bacow launched between Harvard and the University of Michigan, one focused on poverty issues in Detroit and the other on the opioid addiction crisis.