JMU News

COVID-19 Update - Sept. 24


 

Dear JMU Family,

Update on Cases
On Wednesday, Sept. 23, the university observed 3 new positive cases of COVID-19 at the Health Center as well as 10 self-reported cases, with 11 becoming considered “recovered,” which puts the number of active cases at 97. The number of open quarantine and isolation beds remained steady at 113. More information can be found on the university’s Stop the Spread dashboard. While our situation continues to improve, individuals must continue to follow public health guidance by wearing masks, maintaining physical distance and washing hands frequently.

Surveillance Testing
Among the many operational enhancements put in place during the pause of in-person classes and campus de-densification, the university has contracted with a third-party testing company to test 300 nonsymptomatic students per week who have not yet tested positive for COVID-19 to identify and get ahead of potential outbreaks of the virus. Testing will initially focus on on-campus students. This enhancement is in addition to the University Health Center’s existing testing capacity. Of course, with increased testing, more cases will likely be found after the initial return in October. The quadrupling of quarantine and isolation space since early September is expected to handle this potentiality.

Dr. Gonzalo Bearman, hospital epidemiologist at Virginia Commonwealth University and a member of the JMU Scientific & Public Health Advisory Team (SPHAT) said of the addition of surveillance testing at JMU, “Social distancing, hand hygiene and face masks are highly effective for reducing COVID-19 transmission. Testing of asymptomatic individuals can further decrease risk through isolation and contact tracing. These measures will make the university campus experience safe and feasible during the current pandemic.”

JMU’s Office of Research and Scholarship launched the advisory team, which consists of 19 individuals with scientific and/or public health backgrounds from JMU, the University of Virginia, VCU, Merck, MITRE, SRI and the University of Florida. The group functions to inform JMU leadership of current scientific research and public health guidance related to COVID-19. This support will bolster the guidance received in recent months from the university’s medical experts, the Virginia Department of Health and faculty members across campus.

Stop the Spread HELPline

If you have questions and can’t readily find the answer in our FAQs, call the Stop the Spread HELPline, which is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The toll-free number is 888-886-3131. And don’t forget, many of your questions can be answered here. Call center agents also will be answering questions sent to covid19@jmu.edu, and you can submit questions via a form on the Stop the Spread site.

Stay safe, and please remember that the only vaccine currently available for COVID-19 is solidarity. And download the COVIDWISE app!

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Published: Thursday, September 24, 2020

Last Updated: Friday, September 25, 2020

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