Pitt adds 6 new COVID-19 cases since last Friday

By Mary Rose O'Donnell, Acting Editor-in-Chief

Pitt added six new COVID-19 cases, composed of two students and four employees, as of Friday’s weekly case report. The University has had a total of 25 students and 14 employees test positive since June 26, with 23 students and five employees recovered thus far.

The University’s uptick in cases comes as Allegheny County has seen a persistent surge in cases over the past few weeks. The county reported a decrease in daily case numbers over the past week, with only one day where more than 100 people tested positive.

The Oakland campus is still mostly empty, besides 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 June 29 and quarantined for two weeks before beginning voluntary workouts.

But the Oakland campus will not remain empty for long. Pitt officials said Wednesday that the University will begin to allow increments of 1,500 students to move into on-campus housing on Aug. 11, a little less than three weeks away, with the final arrivals on Aug. 31.

Pitt is also requiring all students, including those living off campus, to complete a 14-day shelter-in-place period before attending in-person classes. Students living in University housing for the fall must complete seven of the 14 days immediately before arriving on campus and the other seven days immediately after arriving on campus. Off-campus residents are encouraged to align their shelter-in-place period with roommates if they plan to complete this period at a shared residence.

Pitt’s COVID-19 Medical Response Office sent an email Friday afternoon detailing more information about the shelter-in-place period. According to the email, while sheltering in place at their off-campus or permanent residence, students should only leave the house for food or emergency situations, social distance when possible and wear a face mask if they cannot maintain 6 feet of separation. They also recommend students log their symptoms and exposure through a to-be-announced online screening tool.

University spokesperson Kevin Zwick said Monday that Pitt will not track whether or not students have completed their 14-day shelter-in-place period. Some community members criticized the policy as ineffective and unlikely to work in practice, since the University will not monitor students.

“While students are at home, they are on the honor system and we hope they will comply,” Zwick said.