Fordham Experiences Spike in COVID-19 Cases

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The Rose Hill is reopening following a two week shut down. (Mackenzie Cranna/The Fordham Ram)

Sarah Huffman, News Editor

On Nov. 17, Marco Valera, vice president of Administration and COVID-19 coordinator, sent an email to the Fordham community about a recent uptick in cases on campus. 

The email said that in the two weeks between Nov. 2 and Nov. 15, 53 people tested positive for COVID-19. 

Valera sent a separate email on Nov. 13 that said for the first time this semester, the university’s positive test rate is above 1%. At the time the email was sent, the positive test rate for the university was at 1.38%. As of Nov. 17, the positive test rate for the university is 1.28% as per Fordham’s COVID-19 testing dashboard

“Please observe COVID-19 precautions, including wearing a mask and social distancing, to protect yourselves and the University community for the last ten days of on-campus instruction,” read the email. 

Maureen Keown, Director of University Health Services, said the University is concerned about this spike in numbers and the potential for spread to community members within and outside Fordham. She said the increase in the number of cases around the country may have an impact on our numbers, but our numbers can also have an impact on the numbers in the general community.

“We are a community of people who love NYC and travel in NYC,” said Keown. “We try to go to restaurants with outdoor dining and see some of the sites that are still open and available during this Covid crisis but we need to be remain smart and careful.  We are all becoming Covid tired but there is a light ahead with the vaccine and we just all need to be vigilant until that time comes where we can get out again.”

As of Nov. 17, the Rose Hill campus has 46 active COVID-19 cases and the Lincoln Center campus has nine active cases, resulting in 55 total cases at the university. 

The email from Nov. 13 reminded students that if one person in a classroom tests positive for COVID-19, everyone physically present in the class may have to complete a 14 day quarantine. This rule is dependent on how long the class was and the size of the classroom. The university has space on campus for students to quarantine if they were exposed or if they test positive. 

Valera’s email from Nov. 13 reminded students to review CDC travel guidelines as they prepare to travel home for Thanksgiving break. 

The email from Nov. 17 told students who would be spending time with family over break that they should get tested before they leave campus if they hadn’t already completed their fourth required test. 

Keown said that according to New York City and New York state guidelines, students who are exposed to the virus will need to quarantine for 14 days and those who test positive would need to isolate for 10 days, which as of now, would interfere with Thanksgiving.

“It would be hard to travel home unless you can do that by car,” she said “The use of mass transportation while infected with COVID-19 or under quarantine would not be recommended.  You would also need to be able to isolate and quarantine safely at home so you do not put others at risk.”

As of Nov. 13, the governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, mandated that restaurants, bars, gyms and any state liquor authority-licensed establishment must close in-person service from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. daily. All gatherings (indoor and outdoor) must be limited to 10 people or less. 

Valera’s email from Nov. 17 informed students that there have been 151,800 new COVID-19 cases in the United States over the last seven days, according to the CDC

“Sadly, there have been more than 246,200 deaths nationally from the virus since January, and more than 760 in the past seven days,” read Valera’s email. “In addition to being tested before you leave, we reiterate the importance of wearing face coverings, practicing social distancing, and avoiding indoor contact with people not in your household.”

Keown said more information regarding COVID-19 procedures for the spring will be communicated in the upcoming weeks.