COVID-19 cases are surging throughout the country after a fall from the previous January uptick. Specifically, the East Coast has seen the most increase in the past week, with cases doubling since the start of the month.
Two new sub variants called BA.2.12 and BA.2.12.1 have swept much of the northeastern region of the country and it is spreading to the midwestern part of the country as well. In Illinois, Wisconsin and Michigan, cases are up by more than 40% in the past two weeks.
According to the Department of Public Health, Connecticut recorded 3,939 positive COVID-19 tests in the past week, the most in a seven-day period since early March.
Due to this rise the University of Connecticut reinstated their mask mandate on Monday, April 18 “due to an increase in covid cases across the state.”
Students and staff members will be required to wear masks in all indoor institutional settings, workspaces and indoor events exceeding 100 people, according to UConn officials. Students can expect to wear masks in classrooms, labs, studios, rehearsal rooms and clinics.
According to UConn’s officials, this decision was made because there were “approximately 150 new positive cases on and off campus.”
This mandate will remain in place until the end of the semester and through the duration of final exam testing.
Despite the uptick in cases, Fairfield University has not released any mitigation measures to be instituted for the duration of the semester.
According to the Connecticut COVID-19 Data Tracker, Fairfield and Westport have the highest rates of transmission being 15 or more cases per 100,000 people.
Jennifer Anderson, associate director of media relations and content marketing, stated that “The COVID-19 task force continues to meet on a regular basis. “
Anderson continued, “the University diligently monitors the COVID-19 cases on campus, while reviewing data trends in the Town of Fairfield and state of Connecticut. As in the past and if needed, mitigation strategies would be put in place to stop the spread of COVID-19 infection.”
Associate professor of biology Studies James Biardi, Ph. D. states, “the most important steps for students to take to protect against infections are to be current on vaccination and booster doses and to wear a mask indoors and in crowded settings.”
Biardi continues this measure is “important not only for individual health, but also to protect those in our Fairfield community that can’t personally be vaccinated, have children younger than five, have immunocompromised family at home, or other situations that place them at high risk.”
“It seems clear to me that the University should reinstate an indoor mask mandate.” Biardi says. He questions, “ I am curious about why the senior administration doesn’t direct this simple, effective and low-cost step to protect us?”
Students express concerns and thoughts about the recent surge in cases.
Junior Claire Bellucci states she “is not surprised in the recent uptick in cases”
Bellucci continues, “I could imagine an increase in cases could be attributed to the fact that there is no mask mandate in classes, at the gym or anywhere on campus anymore.”
Over Easter Break, Bellucci had COVID, despite being vaccinated and boosted. She believes “the school should contact professors and students if someone in their class tests positive and give vaccinated students the option to get treated, and require unvaccinated students to be tested.”
Junior Caroline McConvillestates, “I think the University should watch the uptick closely.” Mcconville continues, “I do not want the increase in cases to impact the finals week as it did last semester.”
McConville is referencing the COVID spike nearing the end of the Fall 2021 semester which led to the University enforcing mitigation measures. As reported by the Mirror in December 2021, the strategies went in place on Friday, Dec. 17 at 5 p.m. These strategies included the cancellation of all non-essential meetings and functions on campus, that all employees able to work remotely should do so and, beginning Saturday Dec. 18, all students who don’t have in-person finals were requested to vacate campus.
Sophomore Connor Padover shared, “there are two weeks left, so I don’t see the point in reinstating a mandate or other precautions although there might be a need for the mandare to be instituted next semester if the numbers continue to rise.”
The Mirror will continue to update on the COVID increase, and the University’s response.