Campus Community Sees Uptick in Cases Ahead of Break

by, Pete Janny & Lauren Raziano, Sports Editor & Staff Writer

A resurgence of coronavirus cases is unfolding in New York City and across the country, causing many to believe a “second wave” has arrived eight months after nationwide lockdowns first began. With Thanksgiving Break a matter of days away, the college is hoping to finish the semester off with a limited number of cases.

The coronavirus situation on campus has grown slightly worse, but is still not at a concerning level compared to other schools. Nine new positive cases were reported in an email sent out on Nov. 12, increasing the positive test average to 0.8 percent over the past 14 days after sitting at 0.3 percent the week before. The new update came just as the city was experiencing a 2.3 percent positive rate over the course of seven days. 

In the same email, school officials encouraged students to continue to be responsible and careful upon arriving home for Thanksgiving.

“Guided by the New York State Department of Health, we are encouraging a precautionary self quarantine for those who may be traveling home for Thanksgiving,” the email stated.

All resident students and resident-commuter students will be required to undergo exit testing before departing for the holiday. On-campus testing will also be available for commuter students, and any student getting tested must do so within nine days of leaving campus. Enzo Labs and Imperial Pharmacy will stop administering tests after Friday, Nov. 20 to everyone but student-athletes, essential employees and students planning to remain on campus during break. 

With one week of on-campus classes left, Jaspers are encouraged to continue taking safety seriously. SARA MILANO / COURTESY

The slight uptick in cases on campus comes after a notable coronavirus scare in late October which sent several residents assistants into close-contact quarantine, according to multiple sources. Although information about the matter was not formally disclosed by the school, The Quadrangle later learned that the decision to place the resident assistants into isolation was the result of one of them being exposed to a student who later tested positive for the coronavirus. According to the Manhattan COVID-19 dashboard, several students entered close-contact quarantine on October 30th and were not allowed to leave until Nov. 13. 

Close-contact quarantine is for students who haven’t tested positive but were exposed to at least one person who had tested positive within 14 days. This is different from isolation quarantine, which is required for students who either test positive, experience symptoms before knowing test results, or have suspected cases. 

According to the dashboard, the number of close-contact quarantines for the school reached a record-high 25 students on Nov. 5. But at the same time those quarantines were taking place, only a few suspected cases actually materialized into positive test results. After the weekly email on Oct. 29 confirmed only one positive case, the follow-up email on Nov. 5 only reported two cases. 

For other schools in the northeast, including some fellow MAAC institutions, health conditions have reached a tipping point. 

Both Sacred Heart University and Quinnipiac University in Connecticut are on red alert after experiencing recent outbreaks, prompting the former to go fully remote for the rest of the semester while the latter has shifted online temporarily, according to multiple news outlets. 

Schools on red alert prohibit resident students from leaving campus and commuter students from stepping foot on campus to further prevent the spread of the coronavirus. 

Meanwhile, Iona College has had well over 100 cases among students this semester, including an outbreak back in mid-October that forced the school to go entirely remote for two weeks.

In regards to athletics, the status of the impending college basketball season seems to be a legitimate concern. As of Nov. 14,  29 Division 1 men’s basketball programs across the country had paused activities due to complications with the coronavirus, according to a tweet from Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports. Six MAAC basketball programs were on that list, two of whom—Marist and Canisius—are scheduled to play the men’s basketball team within the first four games of the conference season which is scheduled to start on Dec. 8. 

On-campus coronavirus testing for the spring semester is tentatively scheduled to begin on Jan. 19 in anticipation for the start of classes on Jan. 27. Similar to the fall semester, every member of the college community will be required to complete a test in order to be allowed back on campus. Any updates regarding this process will be reported on when made available by the school.