Pitt adds 12 new COVID-19 cases since Tuesday

By Ashton Crawley, Assistant News Editor

Pitt added 12 new COVID-19 cases, composed of 11 students and one employee, between Tuesday and Thursday. This follows an increase of 21 new cases, composed of 17 students and four employees, between last Thursday and Monday.

This is the fourth case report since the University moved to the Guarded risk posture on Oct. 19. The presidents of both the Student Government Board and the University Senate said they are very concerned about this decision.

The University recently advised students to complete a 10-day shelter-in-place period starting Nov. 12 before leaving for Thanksgiving break, though Pitt will allow students to attend in-person classes and other academic activities.

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 COVID-19 Medical Response Office said students should only leave their rooms to attend in-person classes, labs or clinicals, pick up food, exercise safely, go to the library, work and shop for essentials and medical needs.

The CMRO said contact tracing this week confirmed that the brief uptick in cases reported Tuesday was largely the result of one household of infected students. The office added that Halloween weekend is not a time for students to let their guard down.

“This Halloween, everyone should try to be outdoors as much as possible to mitigate the risk of viral spread, and every costume should incorporate a medical or cloth mask or a face covering,” the office said. “Be safe and considerate of others, and try to keep distance between you and others at all times.”

The University has had 361 students and 40 employees test positive since June 26, with 330 students and 32 employees recovered thus far.

There are 31 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 last Wednesday, and 228 tested Monday, none were positive, lowering Pitt’s total prevalence rate from 0.34% to 0.31%. No random tests have come back positive since Oct. 14.

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.