Finishing out the week

Happy Friday, Daily Deacdom! Students got their issue of Your Corona Chronicle yesterday, and the top story was that North Carolina reported 2,532 new cases of COVID-19 on October 15— the highest single-day total since the pandemic began. That news was repeated in the October 15 Campus Health Update on the dashboard. After a few days of having no positives on campus, we have had positive cases the last 4 days.

This is not a time to freak out or panic, but it is a time to be really intentional about following good public health practices. Families, if you would, please call your students sometime today and have your normal Friday conversation, but ask them the following questions: are you wearing your mask (especially after hours or when hanging around with others)? are you avoiding large crowds? are you keeping 6′ of distance between you and other people? are you trying to be outdoors to socialize vs. indoors? Speaking of outdoor socializing, Your Corona Chronicle talked about an outdoor showing of Hocus Pocus this weekend, along with food truck events.

We all want to get to Thanksgiving on campus, and it will take each of us making good choices day after day, even (or maybe especially) when we are tired of doing so. Thanks as always for your partnership in this work.

I got a message today from a parent asking me about our asymptomatic testing program and if we were testing fewer numbers of people (there were only 455 people listed on the 10/12 asymptomatic dashboard). Great question, and the answer is no, we are not testing fewer people. Our sample pool for asymptomatic testing is 500 students. Of those 500, we have to take out anyone who is in quarantine or isolation (and cannot come to the test site), or who has some sort of non-COVID illness that would prevent them from coming to get tested. We also have to remove any students who are not available geographically (say someone went home for a few days). There are a very small handful of students who get asked to test and do not comply (we work with them to get them in a future sample). So that is how the pool of 500 invited students doesn’t end up as 500 completed tests.

There was another parent question about asymptomatic testing, and whether a negative result would mean you didn’t have to go into quarantine if you had a known exposure to a positive patient. The answer to that is no. If you are a close contact of a COVID-positive patient, you still have to quarantine. Your negative asymptomatic test does not mean you might not develop COVID; you could still develop symptoms and be infected 14 days after exposure.

I know asymptomatic testing can seem confusing, so I was trying to think of a good analogy for it. This is an imperfect analogy, but bear with me. To me, asymptomatic testing is sort of like a carbon monoxide detector. You can’t see or smell carbon monoxide, so you aren’t aware that it is there, but it would be dangerous to your health, so you want to know if it is present. Similarly, asymptomatic testing helps us detect if COVID is somewhere within our community and we don’t realize it. It is less about detecting whether a specific student has COVID (though of course we want to provide care if they are positive), and more about whether COVID is more present in our community than we realize, so we can increase our mitigation strategies. I hope that makes sense (it’s Friday and it’s been a long week!)

Last up today, there is a news story about the March to the Polls (taking place every day at noon from Poteat Field) and Deacs Decide, and a video too. Lots of good info, and fun to hear from students and see the March in progress. I voted yesterday at the March to the Polls voting place: Winston-Salem First, the big church just off campus, across from Deacon Place. I went about 40 minutes before the polls closed and had no wait whatsoever. So if your Deacs can’t make the March to the Polls, end of day worked well for me.

Have a great weekend, Daily Deacdom. Stay safe and well!

 

— by Betsy Chapman, Ph.D. (’92, MA ’94)

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