Emory experiences slight decrease in cases

Emory continues to record a decline in COVID-19 cases among students, faculty and staff, reporting 40 cases this week, eight fewer than the previous week. This represents an almost 26% decline from two weeks ago, when the University recorded 54 cases.

Of these, 20 were off-campus students, 11 were on-campus students, including two each at Raoul, Alabama, and Fleming Halls, and one each in Turman, Longstreet Means, Evans, Hamilton-Holmes and Complex residence halls. The nine remaining cases were staff members.

Despite a drop in case numbers, as of Feb. 14 there were 29 students in isolation and quarantine at the Emory Conference Center Hotel, many of whom were close contacts of another student who tested positive, said Executive Director of Emory Student Health Sharon Rabinovitz.

“It shows, for me, that we have less cases, but the impact is still there,” Rabinovitz said. “People are becoming close contacts, so we’re not physically distancing, or staying in spaces that are safer, like outside.”

Rabinovitz also noted that students have taken the initiative to contact Student Health Services if they realize they may have been exposed.

“A lot of students are doing the right thing, reaching out to us and getting support when they realize that they’re a close contact, so I applaud everyone for engaging in that process because it keeps everyone safe,” Rabinovitz said.

Planning ahead to lifting restrictions

With the reopening of the Woodruff Physical Education Center to on-campus students on Feb. 8, the University began removing gathering restrictions on other campus facilities and spaces. Unlike in the fall, the pool and climbing wall are now available for use.

Emory Recreation and Wellness is planning to reopen the Student Activity and Academic Center at Clairmont campus and to open facilities to off-campus students and faculty, though no date has been set yet.

“The virus is in charge in a lot of ways, we have to follow what the virus does, how it impacts us,” Rabinovitz said, “but the good thing is, these things are being developed, for when we are able to do them.”

Emory’s gathering risk meter is currently mid-orange. For the meter to move to yellow, a variety of conditions would have to improve, including case numbers and availability of “hospital resources” and “isolation and contact tracing resources,” Rabinovitz explained.

There is no target number of cases that will send the meter into yellow; rather, the decision will be made taking into account each of these factors. 

The University is looking into lifting restrictions surrounding outdoor gathering size, dining locations and in-person class sizes if and when it deems safe.