Pitt adds 10 new COVID-19 cases since Monday

By Ashton Crawley, Assistant News Editor

Pitt added 10 new COVID-19 cases, composed of 8 students and 2 employees, between Tuesday and Thursday. This follows an increase of 10 new cases, composed of nine students and one employee, between last Thursday and Monday.

This is the second case report since the University moved to the Guarded Risk posture on Monday. The presidents of both the Student Government Board and the University Senate said they are very concerned about this decision.

Pitt’s COVID-19 Medical Response Office said little moments add up and the best way through the pandemic is to double down on masking and keeping a distance while waiting for a safe and effective vaccine.

“As parents and colleagues, we understand that this is hard. Please reach out to friends if you are struggling,” the office said. “There are ways to support each other that don’t put public health at risk. People can use masks and distance to gather together safely. It’s not what you do, but how you do it.”

Data collected by The Pitt News. Original data collection by Ryan Yang, Online Visual Editor. Archival data by Spotlight PA and the Philadelphia Inquirer. Graph by Jon Moss, Editor-in-Chief.

The University has had 333 students and 35 employees test positive since June 26, with 316 students and 32 employees recovered thus far. None of the last seven days have seen no new positive cases, according to data reported by Pitt.

There are 17 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 been using the new Flex@Pitt teaching model, which allows students to experience classes “in person, remotely, synchronously or asynchronously.” Provost Ann Cudd announced Sept. 30 that the Flex@Pitt model will continue into the spring semester as the pandemic continues, and the spring will have an adjusted schedule.

Pitt has implemented a systematic, random testing strategy, where it has said it will test several hundred students each week on Mondays and Wednesdays. Out of 296 students without COVID-19 symptoms randomly tested Monday, zero were positive, changing Pitt’s total prevalence rate from 0.36% to 0.34%.

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 said Pitt would not track whether or not students had 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 who 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.