New strains of COVID-19 and warmer spring weather could propose new challenges for virus containment at Keene State College.
So how will these changes affect the way Keene State deals with COVID-19?
COVID-19 Project Team Leader, Dr. Wayne Hartz, mentioned that, across New England, the new variants of the COVID-19 virus are being found. Notably, Hartz talked about new cases at the University of Vermont. “They had 85 new cases at UVM on Monday. They sent five of those to a lab, four out of the five were the U.K. variant.” Hartz brought up more on the new variants saying, “I think it’s here already.”
Kelly Ricaurte, Director of Strategic Communications, also felt that the new variant could reach Keene. “It’s possible; it’s in New England,” she said. “But that doesn’t change what we need to do to keep each other safe.” Ricaurte then went on to describe that people need to keep wearing masks and following the guidelines, “We have to continue wearing masks and social distancing,even though it’s hard,” said Ricaurte. As of March 26, there are 19 total active cases of Covid-19 among the students. This information can be found on the Keene State website at https://www.keene.edu/featured/spring21/assets/documents/status/download/.
“I think this is the same thing that’s been happening,” said Crow Marcinuk, a Keene State junior. They said that, “as long as people are diligent about mask wearing and smart about how they interact with one another, we should pull through.” When asked if they were worried about the possibility of the new strain coming to campus they said, “No, not really.”
With spring comes warmer weather, and Hartz said, “The solution is dilution.” Meaning that, according to Hartz, ventilation could help slow the spread of COVID-19. “I genuinely hope that people will start opening their windows,” said Hartz. “People are going to start driving with their car windows open, and people are going to start meeting outside instead of inside.” Hartz said the nice weather could really start to make things better. “Nice weather; it’s just a game changer.”
Marcinuk also commented on the warmer weather and the COVID-19 numbers, they said, “Honestly, I don’t think they will change too much.”
Marcinuk said they have seen people on campus following guidelines, “For the most part people have been pretty good about it I think.”
They said the problem they see is, “I have seen more of a problem with the other Keene Residents not wearing their masks.”
With more schools closing across New England due to COVID-19, Keene State stands apart in its ability to stay operational with some blended classes and students on campus. Hartz gave his reason for why Keene has been able to remain open, “Everyday, students are making choices and doing the right thing.”
Still concerns remain, “I think people are feeling more comfortable and feeling like they really want to not follow the guidelines,” said Ricaurte in regards to spring’s effects on COVID-19. Again, Ricaurte reiterated the importance of following the precautions put in place like mask-wearing and social distancing: “As long as we continue to wear masks and keep distance between each other then we’ll be fine.” Ricaurte also said she is certain what will happen with Keene State case numbers, “I don’t know what will happen in terms of cases. That is really up to us.”
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