The University of New Hampshire (UNH) reported 83 total active positive cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) as of Nov. 10.
These 83 active cases include 74 students, seven faculty/staff members, and two people categorized as “Other/Contractor.” This is the largest increase of cases at UNH since the start of the semester.
The week of Nov. 3 through Nov. 9 there were 71 total positive cases reported, the biggest spike yet. This included 64 students, one faculty member, five staff members, and one person categorized as “Other/Contractor.”
There are 45 out of 389 students quarantining on campus as of Nov. 10, as well as 44 out of 74 students in isolation on campus.
UNH Health & Wellness Medical Director Peter Degnan believes there are a few reasons why the community is seeing COVID-19 cases rising on campus. “For UNH specifically, the increase in COVID came at a time when we were beginning to move activities indoors, which may be a large reason for the increase. I also think many were experiencing ‘COVID fatigue;’ we are all tired of physical distancing and mask requirements, and the timing of Halloween and the socialization around that event likely didn’t help.”
Degnan is concerned about the rising cases in Durham and in the country as a whole, and hopes there will be enough containment and control this winter so that students will be able to return in January and stay on campus for the whole spring semester.
Degnan hopes that despite the rising cases on campus, the university will be able to finish the remainder of the semester in-person before transitioning to remote learning on Nov. 20. “There are so many dedicated staff here at UNH that are working very hard to support the continuation of in-person classes up until Friday November 20. I am hopeful that if students, faculty and staff double-down our efforts, that we’ll be successful.”
Students who are identified as close contacts and need to quarantine as of Nov. 11 will be asked to go home to quarantine if possible due to limited capacity in on-campus quarantine housing, according to an email sent to the UNH community on Wednesday by Senior Vice Provost for Student Life Kenneth Holmes.
Holmes expressed his concern over the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the email and stated that students need to stay vigilant, avoid large gatherings, limit close contacts and use their WildcatPass to check compliance.
“Given the rising number of COVID-19 cases, I am receiving requests from students asking to leave on-campus housing, or to finish the remainder of the semester as a remote student [prior to Nov. 20],” said Holmes. He continued to say that since Nov. 6, the campus has had 66 students go home to continue their studies remotely – 39 of these were voluntarily and 27 involuntary, signifying evictions.
In the email Holmes also explains how to go remote before Nov. 20, “If you want to leave before Nov. 20 and request to continue classes remotely, please consult with your faculty. Should you leave campus, please inform the UNH COVID 19 logistics team by emailing COVID@unh.edu. If you live on-campus, follow the check-out guidelines you received.”
Holmes lastly gave advice to students planning on returning during winter break, “…you should take every possible precaution to reduce your risk of contracting the virus before you leave. Continue to submit your COVID-19 tests until you are ready to leave campus. For ultimate safety, consider sheltering in place—only leaving your room to attend classes and labs, to get meals, for safe exercise, to study in the library or for other essential tasks.”
Photo Courtesy of the University of New Hampshire