Covid-19 Uptick causes concern at several colleges – Community News
Covid-19

Covid-19 Uptick causes concern at several colleges

After weeks of steady declines in the number of new Covid-19 cases, college campuses across the country are again starting to see an increase in the incidence of the disease. The recent increases reflect national data on reported cases, which, according to the New York Times, are up 6% in the past 14 days.

In the past two weeks, several colleges and universities have reported seeing an increase in new cases among their students. Here are just a few examples:

  • On Nov. 9, officials at the University of Michigan said there had been “a significant increase in the number of COVID-19 cases” in the past week. They warned that maskless social gatherings appeared to be the main mode of transmission among students, citing two clusters involving 40 students in events over the Halloween weekend and the fall break. Testing of 950 students revealed 70 positive cases of Covid-19 (for a positivity rate of 7.4%). The university said cases among its employees “remain stable on an elevated plateau”.
  • Quinnipiac University reported a “noticeable increase” in Covid-19 cases among students and staff in the past week. According to the Covid-19 update on its website, 30 new cases of Covid-19 have been reported in the past seven days. more than three times the average number of new cases in the previous weeks.
  • The University of California, Berkeley and the University of Southern California announced they are postponing their upcoming football game this weekend due to an outbreak of the virus on Cal’s team. “It was a tough decision to postpone Saturday’s game against USC,” said Jim Knowlton, director of athletics at U-Cal, Berkeley. “We have had multiple COVID-19 positives in our program and we are taking every step we can to reduce the spread and protect the larger community.”
  • At Saint Michael’s College, in Colchester, Vermont, classes were held online last Friday and other campus events were canceled due to a coronavirus outbreak. Of the approximately 1,450 students at the school, 54 had COVID-19 at the time of the decision to switch online for a day. In his message to the students, Lorraine Sterritt, the president of the university, said: “The situation we find ourselves in was not inevitable. We did really well as a community to the point where there were countless Halloween parties where students were exposed and interacted with.” She added that while the college was managing the situation, it was important to understand why the disruption occurred. “It was the disregard for our health and safety guidelines and college policies by some members of our community.”
  • Elsewhere, Wesleyan University, in Middletown, Connecticut, has seen a doubling in Covid-19 positivity in recent days. Both the University of Arizona and Arizona State University have experienced a surge in cases in the past two weeks. And Georgetown University reported the largest increase in campus Covid-19 cases since last January.

While it’s not entirely clear what explains the new outbreaks, university officials tend to blame laxity in following standard mitigation efforts such as masking and social distancing, particularly over the Halloween weekend, a period that is generally not known for his caution or restraint on campus. In addition, at several institutions, the majority of new cases appear to occur for students who live off-campus, where mitigation protocols are less likely. Finally, university students, like many others, are just getting tired of always having to protect themselves from the virus. They drop their guard.

With 70% of US adults now vaccinated, the good news is that the small but significant uptick in cases over the past two weeks has not yet been matched by an increase in hospitalizations or deaths. And in most campuses reporting outbreaks, the vast majority of affected students have only mild symptoms.

Still, the rebound sends a warning signal just as colleges approach the end of the semester and the holiday season, two of the most risky periods for the virus to spread. Covid-19 remains among us and lurks as a still dangerous threat.