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COVID-19 briefing, Sept. 21, 2020

Sept. 21, 2020

Augustana College has hosted two live, virtual video briefings in recent weeks, but today we are opting for an email to brief you on the latest in regard to COVID-19 cases on this campus and information from the contact tracing team on isolation, quarantine and sequester. Most importantly we want to share guidance to help limit the spread of COVID-19.

Student guidance for this week

As we start Week 4 of classes this semester, your concern for yourself and others remains vitally important.

Continue to:

• Wear your mask. Wear it correctly, both inside and outside.

• Wash your hands. Sanitize every chance you get.

• Watch your distance. Keep at least six feet between yourself and others.

Stay on campus as much as possible. With the positivity rate increasing in the community, it is smart to forgo a grocery shopping trip and get delivery. Avoid eating in restaurants, and get carry-out. Stay active outdoors rather than indoors. Take a walk or ride a bike on the path.

Keep your friend group small. While we continue to emphasize group gatherings no larger than 10, a person socializing with numerous small groups can have daily contact with far more than 10 people. Even in small groups, the more people you socialize with and dine with, the more likely you are to be at risk for COVID-19 exposure or transmission. Keeping your circle of friends small can help limit your exposure and/or your ability to spread the virus to others in the event you are asymptomatic.

Use the CampusClear health screening app. All Augustana students, faculty and staff are required to use the CampusClear health screening daily.

If you are experiencing symptoms, consult with your medical provider, and if they believe you may have COVID-19, contact Public Safety immediately at 309-794-7711.

Notifying Public Safety early allows the college’s contact tracing to commence more quickly, reducing community exposure.

Official numbers show an uptick

An "uptick" is defined as a "small increase." And while it’s a small increase at this time, we want to be transparent in sharing this news as data informs our guidance as we work to minimize any COVID-19 spread at Augustana College.

Among the college’s 2,900 campus community members, eight people were required to start isolating due to a positive test since our campus briefing on Monday, Sept. 14.

At Augustana, those in isolation are either symptomatic or have had a positive test for COVID-19.

4 of those in isolation, all students, are on campus.

2 of those in isolation, both students, are off campus.

2 of those in isolation, both employees, are at home/away from campus.

Currently 52 people are now in quarantine. At Augustana, those in quarantine have had close contact with someone showing symptoms or someone who had a positive test.

The number of students being quarantined this week grew because even normal interactions — eating in the dining hall or living with roommates who are showing symptoms or have had a positive test — can put people at risk for transmission. The increase in the number of quarantined students is not due to intentional violations of Augustana's COVID response efforts.

Two individuals are being sequestered. At Augustana, this means they had close contact with someone with a suspected but unconfirmed case.

To date, through the surveillance testing protocols, the college’s current positivity rating is less than 1%.

Rock Island County returns to "warning" status

As always, we also are watching the data provided by the Rock Island County Health Department. On Friday, county health officials reported 44 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number of cases to 2,833. There are 17 patients hospitalized in Rock Island County, and the county’s positivity rate was 11% last week.

Also on Friday, the county returned to warning status under the Illinois Department of Public Health’s county-level COVID-19 risk metrics, which indicate an increased risk of the virus. 

We are #AugustanaStrong!

As mentioned in last week’s live virtual briefing, we have been watching peer institutions who started classes a few weeks before Augie, and we’ve noticed that weeks three and four are pivotal for college campuses.

Please help us make sure that this week we are #AugustanaStrong, for our campus, for you, your classmates, and faculty and staff.

Vikings Take Care,

Dr. Wes Brooks
Dean of Students