The Wheel publishes updates every Friday 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 latest cases
Emory reported nine new positive cases in the past week, down from 14 cases reported the previous week. Eight cases were reported off campus and one case was reported at the Goizueta Business School. Of the nine cases, five are students and three are staff. Since Aug. 22, the University has reported 38 cases.
The latest on testing
Executive Director of Emory Student Health Services Sharon Rabinovitz told the Wheel that weekly testing is now considered mandatory, a departure from the University’s previous communication to on-campus students that stated weekly testing was “expected.”
On-campus students who fail to get tested weekly violate the Emory Community Compact, she stated, and this could impact whether these students will be allowed to stay on campus.
“Everyone has to follow the directives of testing, contact tracing, isolation and quarantining and this is just part of that” Rabinovitz said. “So everyone has signed the Community Compact and has agreed to be doing this … it could impact whether you stay on campus, because this is really a requirement to be in housing, and to protect those around you.”
Rabinovitz noted that in preparing to receive a test, students should pack a “go bag” containing clothing, school work and other essentials in the event they receive a positive result and must quarantine at the Emory Conference Center Hotel for at least 10 days. She recommended students either bring their bag to the testing site or have it ready in their dorm.
Within the last week, two cases were reported in first-year dormitories. When a case is reported in a residence hall, an email is sent to students living on the floor where the case was reported and members of the Environmental Health and Safety Office and the Building and Residential Services disinfects common areas throughout the floor.
Free flu vaccinations
Emory Student Health Services will offer free flu vaccinations for on-campus students beginning next week at the Woodruff Physical Education Center and expand to the Emory Conference Center Hotel in two weeks for off-campus students.
Rabinovitz said the wide availability of the free vaccines for students is a “step up” from previous years. While she did not say the flu vaccine is mandatory for students, it is “highly recommended and expected.” More communication about the vaccines will be provided soon, she said.
“We know that it’s difficult sometimes to tell the difference between COVID and flu symptoms and we want to try to minimize the impact of flu this year,” Rabinovitz said. “Flu shots are the one weapon we have.”
New operating status
The University announced in a Sept. 18 email to undergraduate students that Emory is in the “Orange” operating status and the moratorium of on-campus events has been relaxed. On-campus, indoor events are allowed if there is a maximum capacity of 10 people, the event lasts no longer than 90 minutes and a faculty or staff member is present for its duration.
The new operating status scale includes “Red,” the most stringent category wherein COVID-19 transmission is elevated and only essential activities are permitted, “Orange,” where “significant prevention policies are in place that limit access to facilities,” “Yellow,” where moderate density environments are permitted and “Green,” where high density environments are permitted.
The email emphasized that all attendees of an on-campus event must follow physical distancing and mask guidelines and that all present must have clearance to be on campus. The University warned that gathering restrictions may be tightened “if COVID-19 numbers rise and/or other dashboard indicators change.”