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.
The University has reported 17 new cases this week, up from last week’s 10 cases, bringing the total number of cases since Aug. 22 to 104. Of the new cases, 12 cases are students, with seven cases off-campus and one each at Clairmont Residential Center, Alabama, Harris, Complex and Longstreet Means residence halls. Two staff members tested positive at 1762 Clifton Road and the Facilities Management Building A and one faculty member tested positive at the Woodruff Memorial Research Building.
This week includes the highest recorded daily total of six cases, on Monday, Oct. 19. According to Sharon Rabinovitz, executive director of Emory Student Health Services, the uptick corresponds with a rise in cases across the country and Student Health has taken note and will “respond over time” as the situation develops, although she did not specify what actions would be taken.
Updated CDC guideline on close contacts
On Wednesday, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention updated its guidelines for determining close contacts. Previously, a close contact had been defined as someone who has spent at least 15 minutes within six feet of an infected person. This has been updated to 15 non-consecutive minutes over a 24-hour period.
“You might be … talking to somebody in the hallway, and you’re thinking, this is only five minutes, it’s not really a risk, but if that happens several times over the day, then you are considered a close contact,” Rabinovitz said.
Students will not be required to update their official list of close contacts through OPUS, but Rabinovitz recommends that on-campus students do so.
“When you came to campus, we asked you to update your close contacts, but you didn’t know who they would be,” she said. “Now is a good time to update your close contacts because you know who they are now.”
Students who are symptomatic or who have a known exposure will still be asked to provide their contacts when receiving testing at Student Health.
With Halloween approaching next weekend, Rabinovitz warned that students should be especially mindful of safety guidelines.
“[For] parties, if there are any gatherings, the safest way is 10 people or less, and outside, and all wearing masks,” she said.
She also warned that students should avoid “eating together,” “traveling in a car together” and visiting homes and apartments off-campus.
“If we have increased cases after Halloween, as we go into cold and flu season and the holiday break, it could be very devastating for the community.”
The University has provided more than 2,600 flu vaccines to students, and the vaccine is still available in the Student Health Atrium. Neither Emory Healthcare nor Student Health Services have recorded any flu cases so far this season.