As we go through the second week of the semester, COVID-19 has still been on the minds of most in the University of New Hampshire (UNH) community and around the country. Rising cases around the country and region led UNH administrators to again impose mask requirements in all indoor spaces under new CDC guidance, with over 88% of the student population being fully vaccinated.
So far, in the roughly 10 days since first-year students moved onto campus there have been 105 positive cases among the student population. Over the past 7 days, there have been 74 positive tests originating from an average of 1,487 tests per day resulting in a 0.72% positivity rate. This has caused worry from UNH administrators as rising cases threaten the return of other COVID-19 mandates and a return to the state of campus from last year.
In an email sent out late last week, Senior Vice Provost of Student Life Kenneth Holmes reiterated the state of rising cases on campus and the surrounding community and asked UNH students and community members to continue to wear masks, including when they are not explicitly required. “We’ve also been encouraging you all to wear masks in most other indoor spaces. If you notice that you’re in a space with a lot of people, wearing a mask can go a long way in preventing the spread of this virus…Masks are still a great strategy for keeping this virus under control regardless of if you’ve been vaccinated and even if you’re in a space where masks are not currently required”.
UNH has also updated the guidelines for Quarantine and Isolation for those who have been infected or exposed to COVID-19. For those who have a positive test result, mandatory 10-day isolation per state of New Hampshire guidelines are still in effect. For those who are unvaccinated, close contact quarantine requirements remain largely unchanged from last year, students must quarantine for 10 days and cannot stay in campus residence halls and will not be allowed to attend class as they will have an invalid wildcat pass. For vaccinated students, there is no required actions or quarantine after exposure aside from a mandatory test within 3-5 days of exposure to confirm that they are negative.
Case numbers in New Hampshire and adjacent New England states have been on the rise in recent weeks, but New England remains one of the lowest regions in the country in COVID-19 transmission. As students hope for a return to normalcy on campus, it is important for all community members to actively watch the spread of COVID-19 both on campus and across the country as its implications directly impact lifestyles this semester and beyond.