Pitt adds 22 COVID-19 cases since Thursday

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Wu Caiyi | Senior Staff Photographer

Pitt's outdoor COVID-19 testing site is located outside Posvar Hall.

By Ashton Crawley, Assistant News Editor

Pitt added 22 new COVID-19 cases, composed of entirely students, between last Friday and Monday, continuing an upward trend in reported cases, though less than in previous case reports. This follows an increase of 35 new cases, composed entirely of students, between last Monday and Thursday.

This is the first case report since more classes moved in-person Monday. Provost Ann Cudd announced Wednesday that faculty members can apply to teach their classes in person if there is a “definable benefit” to in-person instruction, and if an instructor’s dean or regional campus president approves teaching plans. Pitt has been using the new [email protected] teaching model, which allows students to experience classes “in person, remotely, synchronously or asynchronously.”

The University has had a total of 221 students and 29 employees test positive since June 26, with 152 students and 27 employees recovered thus far. Five of the last seven days have seen double-digit increases in student cases, according to data reported by Pitt.

Pitt’s COVID-19 Medical Response Office said the number of positive cases “remains higher than they would like.”

“While no new positive cases were reported on Sunday and Monday of this week, the positive case count on the Pittsburgh campus remains higher than we would like,” the office said. “We need to bring this number down, and we can, through continued mitigation efforts such as practicing physical distancing and wearing face coverings. If we do not continue to engage in safe behaviors, the virus will continue to spread and disrupt our lives.”

There are 69 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.

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.

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.

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