Since the return of many staff, students, and faculty members to campus, the university has seen a small spike in COVID-19 cases. As of Friday, Feb. 5, there have been 43 positive undergraduate cases, 36 positive graduate/professional cases, and 29 positive employee cases.
“It’s not a big surprise,” said Sarah Phillips, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “Students went home, gathered, and got sick. It’s what we’re seeing across the country.” Most students tested positive before moving back into the dorms, meaning that the cases are not caused by campus transmission for the most part.
In wake of the increase in cases, Phillips said that the university is shifting its focus to restricting gatherings.
“Last semester, we focused a lot on cleaning surfaces and preventing transmission that way, but the reality of the situation is that people are getting sick from getting together, which this is just not the time for,” said Phillips.
COVID-19 testing procedures for the university have changed as well. In addition to the rapid test and the longer PCR test, Pacific is now also doing batch testing. For these tests, ten different students’ swabs are taken, placed into one vial, and tested together. If students think they are sick or have had COVID in the past three months, they should avoid batch testing, since all 10 students from the batch have to quarantine should a test come back positive.
“We were expecting to see this increase from Christmas and the holidays, and that is the reason we are testing so much,” said COVID response team member Abby Ryan. “The hardest thing we are facing right now is the lack of anything social.”
In response to this, the CRT is emphasizing hosting a variety of safe, social events for students to attend this semester. Students should be on the lookout for information from the response team, and follow their Instagram page at @crtpacificu.
The CRT’s role is to try and support students, faculty, and staff through the pandemic.
“We will be available to provide support for students who are in quarantine and isolation,” said Andrea Doerfler, supervisor of the response team. “We’re also educating and trying to get the word out about if you have the virus, this is what to do.” — Ella Cutter
Photo: There has been a spike in Pacific COVID-19 cases and changes to university testing procedures in the wake of rising numbers across the state (Julien Dagan)