COVID-19 cases have remained consistent in their numbers at Keene State College, but some experts say this could be cause for concern.
As of April 29, there were 23 total active cases among people attending or working at Keene State College. Of those 23 cases, seven were on-campus students and 14 were off-campus students. The rest were cases among the faculty at Keene State. However, no employees have tested positive for COVID-19. This information can be viewed at https://www.keene.edu/featured/spring21/assets/documents/status/download/.
The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services shows that there are currently 104 active cases in Cheshire County. In the past 14 days, there were 191 new cases reported making the positivity rate around 1.8%. This information can be seen online through this link: https://www.covid19.nh.gov/welcome.
Colin Burdick, Construction Clerk of the Works, said the COVID-19 numbers at KSC have been, “between 14 and 18 for the past three or four weeks.” This consistency could be cause for concern as Burdick said, “You hear a lot of the scientists say that when you get a plateau, its sign that things are going to go up.” In the City of Keene, however, COVID-19 numbers, “actually dropped a little bit,” said Burdick. Additionally, Burdick said that Cheshire County “has had a steeper decline.” When asked as to why the case numbers on campus were staying consistent unlike the greater Keene area and Cheshire County, Burdick said, “I don’t honestly.”
However, other professionals seem to think it could be because of new strains. Dr. Wayne Hartz, KSC’s COVID-19 Project Team Leader, is worried about new strains that are present on campus. “The week of April 5 was the first time the U.K. variant showed up.” said Hartz. The new strain was detected in the sewage and “over the next two weeks,” said Hartz, “it has showed up every time.” The U.K. variant of the virus, “is more contagious, it’s easier to spread,” said Hartz.
Also, Hartz brought up information on how there have been, “consistently we’ve seen more cases off campus.” However, Hartz said, “The latest result we have showed a more significant increase in on-campus cases.” Hartz said that he believes this is important for the students because, “We’re not careful in the dorms.”
Burdick also expressed his concerns about the new strains of COVID-19 at Keene State College. Burdick said, “Our wastewater analysis did pick up U.K. and South African variants.” Burdick also said that it’s possible to see the effect of the new variants, “Last semester we barely saw anyone in quarantine test positive during or after their quarantine.” Compared to this semester where we have been seeing more people in quarantine test positive, “at least three or four per week.”
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