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COVID-19 cases rise as semester ends

By Sean Callahan

The COVID-19 case tracker has been a consistent online tool for the Saint Vincent community to use in viewing the number of confirmed virus cases on campus during the fall semester. In the first two months after students, faculty and staff returned to campus, there were only 8 total positive student COVID-19 cases at SVC.

However, on Nov. 13, Dr. John Smetanka, vice president of academic affairs and academic dean, emailed the college community the weekly campus health and safety update. He wrote that since the previous week, 6 students and 1 faculty or staff member had tested for COVID-19. This put the total number of student positive COVID-19 cases at 23.

The new total was a stark rise from the Oct. 16 statistics, when the tracker showed that 9 students had tested positive since the beginning of the semester. Of those 9 students, 8 had recovered. On Nov. 5, the number of positive cases read 13. Nine of the 13 positive students had recovered. But on Nov. 13, only 12 of the 23 positive students had recovered from the virus.

Smetanka’s email also showed an extraordinary number of quarantined students, in part—as he explained in the Nov. 6 health and safety update—due to the CDC’s new criteria for when to quarantine.

“52 additional students are quarantining as a precaution because of being a close contact of someone who tested positive or who is awaiting testing,” Smetanka wrote. “In total, 28 students are presently isolating or quarantining on campus.”

He encouraged students to use the final week of instruction to limit close contacts in preparation for returning home. He also stressed only leaving campus for essential reasons.

“More than 80% of the positive cases have a very significant likelihood of transmission occurring off campus,” Smetanka wrote. “While the end of the semester is in sight, everyone must stay committed to ensure a responsible return home to family and friends.”


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