The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

Campus has back-to-school COVID-19 spike

Photo by Ari Ismail for The Lafayette
The current spike in COVID-19 cases comes at a similar time to last fall’s outbreak.

The Lafayette community has been experiencing an influx of COVID-19 cases among students and faculty. This comes four months after the World Health Organization announced that the coronavirus is no longer an international public health emergency.

The majority of these cases are believed to be tied to the Omicron XB.1.5 strain, the most dominant COVID strain nationwide. 

Jeffrey Goldstein, the director of health services, assured the community that the latest spike on campus is not a massive concern.

“It’s not a threat to the health and wellbeing of the campus in a significant way unless folks are significantly compromised, immunologically or otherwise,” Goldstein said. “It shouldn’t have a significant impact on teaching or events or general operations.” 

In line with recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, students testing positive for COVID are required to isolate for at least five days. This has led to a large number of students missing their classes.

Mike Briggs ‘27 tested positive for COVID last week and was given information and resources from Bailey Health Center. He faced issues with the dean’s excuse policy and Lafayette’s continued dining problem

“The only thing that I wouldn’t say that [the administration] handled well is they didn’t send me something that was like, ‘Okay, you can go to class on this day, your [dean’s excuse ends] this day,'” Briggs said.

As a student with celiac disease, Briggs said that he was practically unable to order food satisfying his health requirements, in addition to the mobile ordering encountering numerous outages.

“Having celiac … the mobile ordering for someone who has a food allergy is a complete [disaster] and absolutely sucks. Actually getting food was basically impossible,” Briggs added.

COVID cases are not being officially tracked as they were last year, but Goldstein thinks that the number of cases are similar to last fall.

“I think this is almost a copy-paste of last year,” Goldstein said. “When you have two elements, merging as it did last September, where we have new variants that people aren’t immune to yet, and students returning to classes [and] congregate living, that’s always sort of the perfect storm for creating [COVID] spikes.”

On top of this, returning to five-day isolation periods has been a flashback to the peak COVID days of 2020 and 2021.

“Being isolated in your dorm no matter how much you enjoy your roommate … blows,” an anonymous student said. 

Goldstein sent a school-wide email addressing the rise in COVID cases and instructions for those who either test positive or come in close contact. While not as frequently updated, Lafayette manages a COVID page for information and updates. 

“I actually think [Lafayette] has done a good job of not being too limiting,” Briggs said of on-campus updates and operations.

Campus life has yet to be heavily affected by the spike in cases. Last week, over 100 clubs were represented at the Involvement Fair on the Quad. Similarly, thousands of people are expected to attend Lafayette’s home football opener against Columbia this weekend. Goldstein suspects that infection rates will die down within the next few weeks.

“I don’t want people to panic … I think we’re peaking right now, and we’ll be on the downside within the next seven days or so,” Goldstein said.

However, Goldstein expects that the virus will show no signs of going away. He recommends that despite the virus’ mildness, everyone should take necessary precautions.

“Even though for the vast majority of students and even staff, the symptoms aren’t going to be super severe, [at the end of the day], who wants to be sick?” Goldstein said. 

Any further updates on COVID will be administered by Bailey Health Center or the Communication Division from the college. Additionally, the FDA on Monday cleared a new vaccine from Pfizer that specifically targets the Omicron XB.1.5 strain, and it should be available to the public by the end of the week.

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About the Contributor
Ari Ismail, Staff Photographer

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    LaurenSep 15, 2023 at 2:18 pm

    Great article!