GENEVIEVE PFISTER, Special to The Denisonian — After several weeks of consistently low case numbers, University President Adam Weinberg announced on October 22 that results from 215 signal tests revealed five active COVID-19 cases on Denison’s campus.
Contact tracing of these individuals led to the quarantining and testing of 43 community members, which rose to 46 the following week. According to Weinberg’s most recent community update, one new individual had been diagnosed with COVID, but had no close contacts on campus. During the week prior to the outbreak, Denison had administered a total of 196 COVID tests, with none coming back positive, and since the beginning of September, during Denison’s administration of campus-wide testing, the active case count had never exceeded one. In his email announcing the sudden, slight increase in cases, Weinberg highlighted what he wants students to take away from these statistics, reminding them to follow the guidelines outlined in the Community Care Agreement, including wearing masks and keeping 6 feet of distance.
“As it gets colder and we are inside more often,” Weinberg wrote. “It is important to fully commit to physical distancing and mask wearing, especially when we are in indoor spaces — I can’t emphasize this strongly enough. On our campus, it is often the small indiscretions . . . that appear to be leading to COVID cases.”
Following the outbreak, Weinberg’s October 29 community update maintains a cautiously optimistic tone, stating that from that week’s 218 signal tests, none came back positive. Additionally, the close contacts of the 5 positive cases identified in the previous update were all retested with no positive results. Currently, 18 community members remain in quarantine, with 7 in designated on-campus quarantine spaces.
Given the return of lower case numbers, Weinberg announced that the administration is now allowing students to resume socializing in each other’s residence hall rooms with masks and physical distancing, a policy that was temporarily suspended due to the rise in cases. Students may now have up to two guests in a single, double, or triple room and up to four in a suite or apartment. Weinberg also sent a cautionary and encouraging message to the community, stressing that the virus is still present and imploring the community to continue adhering to safety guidelines as winter break approaches and students prepare to return home: “While our campus viral health is good, we must keep in mind that the virus is among us . . . So, please continue to abide by our COVID Community Care Guidelines. Our hard work and diligence are making a difference.”
For more information on Denison’s COVID guidelines and statistics, students can reference the COVID-19 Dashboard under their My Denison portal and the ‘Guide to Fall 2020’ page on Denison’s website.
More information regarding Spring 2021 Semester will be released soon via email.
EDITORS’ NOTE: As of Monday, Nov. second, cases within the campus community remain low, according to an update sent by Weinberg. It stated: “We have one new confirmed case reported over the weekend of an individual who has no close contacts within the campus community. The individual is isolating in an off-campus space. We currently have 18 community members (students, faculty, and staff) in quarantine, seven are in on campus quarantine spaces.” The Denisonian will follow up with any updates.