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More than $7.2 million spent on COVID tests at 90 percent vaccinated College of the Holy Cross

College said it’s still waiting on federal government reimbursement

The College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts, has spent more than $7.2 million over the course of the past two years on COVID testing kits, despite a student body vaccination rate of over 90 percent.

The cost per positive case identified works out to about $6,400, as only 1,100 COVID cases have been identified through campus tests.

The small Catholic college has a total enrollment of 3,000 students and has required students to get tested twice weekly, while faculty and staff are required to test once per week.

The College Fix reached out to the finance department for the exact cost of COVID campus testing. Patricia Maher, associate director for budgets, said the cost is $25 per test.

In total, the university has used over 290,000 tests as of April 13 since the fall of 2020, according to the school’s COVID dashboard. That works out to a cost of $7.25 million.

A member of the university’s COVID Core team said in a school-wide webinar that the federal government reimburses for the cost of testing.

“All of our testing is reimbursed through the [Federal Emergency Management Agency] so it doesn’t impact students, there’s no cost to you or the college,” the staffer said.

The finance office only gave a total estimate of testing costs, including staffing, for the last fiscal year: a total of $4 million spent on testing and staff between June 2020 and June 2021. This means that the total cost of testing as of spring 2022 is likely far higher than $7 million.

Costs will allegedly be reimbursed by FEMA, but the funds have not yet come in

FEMA had yet to reimburse the college for the cost of tests according to a March 28 email from Maher to The Fix.

“[W]e are still working through the reimbursement process [and]…we anticipate the majority of this to be reimbursed by FEMA,” Maher said.

Maher also revealed that to cover the costs that they expect to be reimbursed by FEMA, the college used funds that would have been allocated to departmental operation budgets if the college were not largely shut down.

“We reduced all departmental operating budgets since there was no travel, meals and entertainment, conferences, reduced dining costs, etc., and funds that are held in the college reserve for unforeseen events and planned one time expenses,” Maher stated.

The college only recently decided to lift its masking requirement as of March 17, despite over 90 percent of the student body having received the COVID-19 booster shot. Additionally, 30 percent of the student body has had COVID in the last 90 days, according to the March 17 webinar.

The Fix emailed Maher April 13 for further comment on the reimbursement and has not yet received a response.

MORE: The College of the Holy Cross renaming its science center after Anthony Fauci

IMAGE: College of the Holy Cross/Facebook

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About the Author
College Fix contributor Will Kessler is a junior at the College of the Holy Cross majoring in political science with a minor in Russian studies. He is a staff writer for the Fenwick Review and a member of his school’s College Republicans.