The Wheel publishes updates every Saturday about coronavirus spread within the Emory community, the University’s COVID-19 testing strategy and other related information. The Wheel also tracks on campus cases daily, which can be viewed on our homepage.

New COVID-19 test for on-campus students

The University announced on Oct. 15 its plans for the spring semester which include increasing housing capacity by 375 additional students while continuing to keep most classes online. The announcement also stated that a new, saliva-based test will be used for on-campus students.

“The saliva-based test that they are acquiring is much more sensitive, and it is much more comfortable for students to experience,” Executive Director of Student Health Services Sharon Rabinovitz said. However, this test takes longer to process, yielding results in 12 hours rather than 15 minutes with a nasal swab antigen test, which the University currently uses for weekly testing.

Otherwise, much of the process for managing COVID-19 on campus will remain the same. While the specifics of testing are still being discussed, the onboarding process for returning and new residential students and students taking in-person classes will be very similar to the fall. All students must receive a COVID-19 test to complete the onboarding process.

The isolation and quarantine processes are also expected to remain the same. 

When asked about the mental health toll of no academic breaks, Rabinovitz said “the impact of people traveling and the health and safety when it comes to the virus is also incredibly impactful.”

The Latest cases

The University recorded 10 new cases since last week’s update. Five off-campus students, one off-campus staff member and one staff member at the Grady Memorial Hospital tested positive. Three on-campus faculty, one at the Health Sciences Research Building, one at the Winship Cancer Clinic and one at the Grady Hospital Faculty Building also tested positive.

Students vaccinated for flu

Over 2,000 students have been vaccinated for the flu through Student Health clinics this semester, although Rabinovitz noted the University is continuing to campaign for students to receive a vaccination. She also emphasized that getting vaccinated sooner rather than later is essential.

“It takes two weeks to develop immunity from the vaccine, so it’s really important, as people travel home, that they get the shot well before Thanksgiving, to protect them during that period of time,” Rabinovitz said.