Since Dec. 27, DePauw has reported 75 positive cases of COVID-19, of which 59 are students and 16 are employees. With a large number of students arriving on campus for spring term, the Omicron variant makes it harder for the COVID-19 Mitigation Team to control the spread of the virus. According to Julia Proctor, the health and wellness director, lots of students still refuse to follow the COVID-19 protocols such as indoor masking and booster shot requirements. “Our team is trying our best to monitor and mitigate the number of positive cases. Masking with surgical masks, KN95 and KF94 are required because they offer significantly more protection than cloth masks due to their fit and filtration. However, there are still a lot of students who have not reported their booster shot, so we are still constantly sending out reminder emails.”
Fortunately, in the current week of Feb. 14, there are no positive cases. In the most recent email from DePauw’s COVID-19 Mitigation Team, our campus has moved from Red to Orange, proving the success and effort of the school’s administration. “The trend of positive COVID cases is certainly downwards,” Proctor confirms. “DePauw’s effort has finally paid off. I’m optimistic that our status can move to yellow soon.” While the student body celebrates the shift in our COVID status, the email reaffirms that specific strategies such as indoor masking and the booster shot requirement still need to be applied to further reduce the spread of the new Omicron variant. Limits on social events are removed but the COVID-19 Mitigation Team advises students to stay cautious and make safe decisions.
Freshman Maia Casterline said, “my parents tested positive for COVID, and I tested positive. I had to leave home early to avoid getting infected, so I was really scared to hear that our status was Red. But I’m relieved now that it has shifted to Orange which means DePauw’s COVID-19 mitigation methods are working.” Casterline has not been able to hang out with friends much in the past few weeks, but now she is not too concerned about the spread of the Omicron variants.
Many international students have worried about the lack of access to medical care such as booster shots, ambulances, and social distancing as the COVID-19 situation on campus got worse. First-year student Lindsie Nguyen said, “My parents in Vietnam are so worried about the new Omicron variants because the number of positive cases in the States just keep rising whenever they read the news. They always told me to mask up and avoid talking with strangers on the street.” She assures her parents that DePauw has control over the spread of the virus, and now she can call her family to share the good news about the COVID status.
As DePauw’s COVID-19 status shifts from Orange to Red, parents and students become more optimistic about our campus’s mitigation methods.