Last week, Kenyon moved to testing just 25% of the student body per week after the extended quiet period ended on Feb. 22. According to Kenyon’s COVID-19 Dashboard, there are currently no active cases on campus or in the Village, and there have been no positives in the past week. Ten students remain in quarantine, and wastewater levels remain unchanged as of March 1.
The College also moved testing from the Lowry Center to Gund Commons, and is now only offering it from Monday–Wednesday in order to consolidate staffing resources, according to Vice President of Student Affairs Meredith Harper Bonham ‘92.
According to Director of Health and Counseling Chris Smith, a small number of students have missed their testing slot. Students who do not get tested will be immediately placed on interim suspension and removed from campus to the Comfort Inn while the conduct review process occurs. While there, students will complete a COVID test.
While the number of positive cases has hit zero in the past couple weeks, there are still students in quarantine. Bonham expressed concerns regarding student behavior in the update sent out to students last week. “The surprising number of close contacts … suggests that perhaps some students are not adhering to the guidelines stipulated in the Kenyon College Commitment and the Student Conduct Addendum,” she wrote.
Chris Smith echoed these concerns in an email to the Collegian, noting that community spread of the virus is still high in Knox County. President Joe Biden announced recently that every adult in the United States should be able to receive a vaccine by the end of May. Smith, however, expressed some skepticism about this promise for Knox County residents. “I will have more confidence when Knox Public Health updates indicate the same,” he said.
Last Thursday, DeWine said the “finish line is in sight” in regards to the COVID-19 pandemic, and that he will lift all safety restrictions when the state sustains fewer than 50 new cases per 100,000 residents for two weeks. As of Wednesday, Ohio was seeing a two-week average of 179 new cases per 100,000, a significant drop from the Dec. 3 high of 731. Additionally, hospitalizations for COVID-19 in Ohio have dropped by 77% in the past two months.
Updates to testing come as vaccination access is increasing across the country. According to the New York Times, nearly 10% of Americans have been fully vaccinated as of March 10. On Friday, DeWine announced that 15 new vaccination clinics would be opening across the state, supported by the Ohio Department of Health and the Ohio Emergency Management Agency. The closest to Kenyon will be a mobile clinic based in Mansfield.
Additionally, mass vaccination clinics are planned for Ohio’s three largest cities — Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati — beginning March 17. The clinic in Cleveland will operate for eight weeks out of Cleveland State University’s Wolstein Center, while in Columbus and Cincinnati, pop-up clinics will distribute 50,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine, initially set aside for long-term care facilities under federal guidelines, that have since been reallocated to the general public.
“Mass vaccination clinics have always been part of our plan,” DeWine said in a press conference. “[With] a significant increase in vaccine supply expected at the end of March, this is the right time to finalize and prepare to launch these large-scale operations.”
DeWine went on to encourage people to get the vaccine. “While no one will be forced to take the vaccine, the more of us who are vaccinated, the more complete our victory, the more confidently we can put this behind us,” he said.