Section: News

Kenyon sees rise in COVID-19 cases amid national increase

COVID-19 cases have risen slightly following students’ return to campus, with 14 active cases reported as of Wednesday afternoon and 34 total cases since the beginning of the fall semester, according to Senior Director of Wellness Chris Smith. Additionally, levels of SARS-CoV-2 in Gambier wastewater samples are the highest they’ve been since last December.

COVID-19 hospitalizations have been rising nationwide, but still remain well below last year’s numbers, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The agency reported 17,418 hospital admissions for the week ending in Aug. 26, up 15.7 percent from the previous week. That number was 36,922 for the same week last year.

There are also fewer cases requiring intensive care, Cameron Wolfe, a professor at Duke University School of Medicine, told ABC News. “Whilst the numbers have gone up, the intensity is not quite there like it had been in the past,” he said. “We’ll see what that looks like in a couple of weeks, but I don’t see anything here that points to sort of an imminent or dramatic increase.”

Kenyon’s campus mirrors national trends: Despite the recent rise in COVID-19 cases, the number of students who have tested positive for the disease is much lower than it was when students returned to campus in the fall of 2022. Last year, there were 110 active cases on Sept. 2, 2022 — just eight days after classes began — according to a final report issued by the Kenyon College COVID-19 Steering Committee. New cases dropped off by the end of September and remained relatively scarce for the rest of the academic year.

After the federal COVID-19 Public Health Emergency ended on May 11, the state program that had provided free test kits to the College also concluded, according to Smith. As a result, rapid tests are no longer available outside of the Gund Commons mailroom; however, students can still make an appointment at the Cox Health and Counseling Center or purchase their own rapid tests through local pharmacies or online retailers.

The Committee’s final report emphasized that even during last year’s spike, campus life was, for the most part, able to continue normally. “Individual perspectives on how to live with [COVID-19] as an endemic virus vary,” Smith wrote in an email to the Collegian. “We recognize the potential challenges of this new reality and empower each person to make decisions in a manner that reflects their approach to endemic living.”

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