COVID-19 cases are seeing an uptick both in the campus and in the Keene community, according to an email sent to students, faculty and staff on Thursday, Sept. 7 by Barb Berthiaume, Director of The Wellness Center and Chief Medical Officer.

“Though the severity of illness is relatively low, and often presenting like a mild cold, please continue to use caution when ill,” the email states.

According to the New Hampshire COVID-19 Response website, hospitalizations have been up since the beginning of August, with the last reported number at 13 on Sept. 5. At its peak in August, 16 people were reportedly hospitalized.

While detection in wastewater is still low, the Keene Wastewater Treatment plant reported through the N.H. Covid Response website, 1,784 viral copies of COVID-19 per 100 mL on Sept. 4. This puts Keene in the 1000-1999 range, the lowest being 250-999.

Within the last month, a new variant of COVID-19 has been detected, the BA.2.86 variant. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), based on what it knows now, tests and medications ‘appear’ to be effective in detecting and against the new variant. However, the variant might be easier to contract despite a person previously having COVID-19 or receiving the vaccines.

“At this point, there is no evidence that this variant is causing more severe illness,” the CDC website states.

Additionally, the CDC’s current assessment is the new wave of vaccines will be effective in preventing serious cases and hospitalizations because of the variant.

According to an article published by Reuters on Monday, Sept. 11, the Food and Drug Administration approved the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines.

Previously, Reuters reported on Wednesday, Sept. 6, that new Moderna and Pfizer vaccines “generated strong responses in testing against the highly mutated BA.2.86 subvariant of the coronavirus.”

Berthiamue recommends the campus community get tested if they feel ill and isolate for five days or until symptoms go away. Students should go home if they are able, if not then they should isolate in their rooms and wear a mask whenever they have to leave. Berthiamue notes, that students do not have to report a positive test.

Tim Bruns can be contacted at

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