COVID-19 cases at Pitt have tripled since last Friday, with a total of 14 students and 5 employees now testing positive, as of Thursday. Five students and one employee tested positive as of last Friday, the first of weekly Friday reports on case numbers.
Pitt spokesperson Kevin Zwick said the affected individuals are isolating in a designated campus location with medical support and oversight, or at their off-campus residence, until they recover.
The Oakland campus is mostly empty, besides for student-athletes who have returned for voluntary workouts. Pitt football players began a phased return on June 8, and quarantined for two weeks before beginning voluntary workouts. Men’s and women’s basketball and soccer, as well as volleyball players and staff, returned to campus Monday, and are undergoing a two-week quarantine.
Pitt Athletics spokesperson E.J. Borghetti said there are currently no plans to change the phased return schedule for athletes, but said the Athletics Department would “always be vigilant” about student health.
The University’s uptick in cases comes as Allegheny County moved Thursday to reinstate closures of bars, restaurants and casinos due to a surge in cases. The county reported its highest-ever single-day case number on Thursday, with 233 individuals testing positive. Reported county cases Thursday more than doubled those reported on Tuesday and Wednesday, at 109 and 110, respectively.
Officials said this week that the University still plans to bring students back to Oakland in August — roughly five weeks away — for classes. Flex@Pitt, the University’s new teaching model, will enable students to attend class in-person or online, in an effort to prevent continued spreading of the virus. The University will operate under a three-tiered system — Guarded Risk, Elevated Risk and High Risk, with different levels of in-person activities allowed under each.
Zwick did not directly respond to questions about whether the increase in cases in Oakland and across the County and nation is giving the University pause about its plans for the fall.