Wu Caiyi | Senior Staff Photographer
Pitt added 37 new COVID-19 cases, composed of 36 students and one employee, between last Friday and Monday, continuing an upward trend in reported cases. This follows an increase of 33 new cases, composed of 32 students and one employee, between Aug. 31 and Sept. 3. Four of the last seven days have seen double-digit increases in student cases, according to data reported by Pitt.
The University’s COVID-19 Medical Response Office described the current moment as a “critical juncture” to flatten the case curve. The office said in a campus-wide email that students who traveled over Labor Day weekend must self-isolate for 14 days upon return to campus.
“We are still seeing an increase in cases of COVID-19 in our Pittsburgh campus community — and double-digit daily case counts — but the rate of increase over the last four days is not exponential,” the office said. “That does not mean we’re in the clear. On the contrary. This is a critical juncture. This is our moment to flatten the curve.”
The increase in cases arrives as in-person classes are scheduled to begin Monday. Pitt has been using the new [email protected] teaching model, which allows students to experience classes “in person, remotely, synchronously or asynchronously,” and extended online learning to allow for all students to start in-person classes at the same time. The University previously said classes would transition to in-person instruction Aug. 24.
The University has had a total of 164 students and 29 employees test positive since June 26, with 86 students and 25 employees recovered thus far. This case report is the second since the last wave of students moved into on-campus housing, and the fifth since move-in began on Aug. 11.
Pitt has implemented a systematic, random testing strategy, where it has said it will test several hundred students each week on Mondays and Wednesdays. Since Friday’s report, no new random tests were administered.
There are 78 students currently in isolation housing, which is reserved for those who have either a confirmed or suspected COVID-19 infection. Pitt has a capacity of 179 beds, with the ability to add 20 more.
The University has implemented a variety of new policies due to the pandemic, though some community members question whether the safeguards are sufficient. All students were asked to shelter in place for seven days before and after arriving in Oakland, though officials have said Pitt will not track whether or not students have completed the shelter-in-place period. Pitt has also planned testing of students to monitor the virus’s spread, required students, faculty and staff to complete COVID-19 training and imposed strict penalties for violations of health guidelines.
Kenyon Bonner, the vice provost and dean of students, said student organizations that host a party or event can face suspension, and students hosting large parties can be suspended.
Students living on campus who attend large parties can have their housing suspended for the semester, and students living off campus can be switched to persona non grata status, preventing them from entering University buildings or property.