Campus Sees Uptick in Covid-19 Cases
Since returning to campus in August, the Georgia Tech community has shown a commitment to public health recommendations to slow the spread of the coronavirus — regular testing, mask wearing, and social distancing among them. As the weather turns cooler and flu season begins, now is not the time to let up on those preventive measures.
Cases of Covid-19 have risen slightly in the past week, both on campus and in the greater community. Dr. Ben Holton, senior director of Stamps Health Services, indicates a few reasons why that may be.
“The pattern we’re seeing as we do contact tracing is that people seem to have others in their friend group — roommates, suitemates, or close friends — who are also testing positive,” Holton said. “Transmission seems to be occurring in smaller friend groups as opposed to large gatherings or random exposures.”
With the weather turning cooler, people are spending more time indoors, and some may be less diligent about measures such as mask wearing and social distancing in comfortable settings.
“Even with small friend groups, you need to wear masks when around others and maintain social distance,” Holton said.
When spending time indoors, Holton recommends finding larger spaces with good ventilation where you can spread out and make sure there is appropriate physical distancing. Activities that require a lot of talking or singing are higher risk — as are places where people may have to speak more loudly or be closer to one another to hear each other, such as in a restaurant.
Transmission can also be prevented by limiting interactions in the community in high risk settings, such as in bars, restaurants, and large gatherings. Holton indicated that Georgia Tech may be seen as a bubble, but it’s a porous bubble. Students, faculty, and staff also live and interact off campus.
Prevention After Infection
Additionally, Holton said they are seeing some people who have had Covid-19 no longer taking precautions. Even if they may not be at risk for reinfection right away, taking precautions for those around them is still important.
“It doesn’t help the community effort to see people not wearing masks, not distancing,” Holton said.
For those who have tested positive for Covid-19 and since recovered, the current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendation is that they not be retested for three months following the initial infection if they remain asymptomatic. Should they develop new symptoms, though, they should seek care and be retested. And, after three months, they should begin testing again at Tech’s asymptomatic surveillance testing sites.
Preparing for the Flu
As Covid-19 cases rise, flu season is also setting in. Two more large flu clinics will take place next week, Oct. 28 and 29, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at McCamish Pavilion. All students, faculty, and staff are invited to stop in to get their flu shot.
Aside from receiving a flu shot, prevention for the flu and Covid-19 is similar: maintain distance from others, wash your hands, wear a mask to prevent transmission, and don’t go out if you don’t feel well.
“You can’t distinguish a cold or flu from Covid-19,” Holton said. Students with any kind of symptoms should seek care and get tested for Covid-19 at Stamps Health Services. Those without symptoms should continue weekly asymptomatic surveillance testing at locations across campus.