My View: More Transparency Needed on COVID-19 Cases

By: Reed Silvers, For The Clock

“We are committed to implementing mitigation measures in an attempt to stop or minimize the rise of infections in our community”– this was the email message delivered to PSU students on October 27, 2020 when the campus community positive case count reached 17. The administration was quick to administer increased safety protocols outlined in that same email. This included moving to strictly take-out meals in the dining hall, suspension of all athletic activities, and no visitation between residence halls. Applause is owed to PSU for such diligence last semester that allowed it to be a success all the way through Thanksgiving. However, the same cannot be said for the second semester.

While increased restrictions took place last semester at 17 cases, this winter, it was business-as-usual even when COVID-19 cases peaked at 45 on Wednesday, February 3. Instead of being transparent and updating the campus community via email, the administration stayed silent. Students would not have known of this dangerous level of cases unless they searched for iton the COVID-19 webpage. Not all community members may know where to find this, or remember to check it. Meanwhile, athletics, crowded dining hall tables, and other in-person activities were continuing unabated. The consequence of this was a week and a half suspension of in-person activities, and over 230 ill students.

While normal operations have been continuing this spring, there is currently an alarming uptick of cases. As of Thursday, April 8, active cases stand at 46, with 25 new infections since Saturday, April 3. 46 active cases is comparable to the 45 cases on campus that resulted in a major spike and subsequent suspension of in-person activities.

Despite this troubling trend, there have been no increased restrictions – not even an emailupdate. Based on last semester’s standards, this would at least warrant take-out meals only. With the weather warming up, students should be encouraged to eat outside, where unmasked socializing is much safer. If nothing else, the administration at least needs to be transparent about this, and the community must be updated regularly. If this knowledge is widely shared, perhaps it will encourage students to cut back on gatherings and slow the spread. With three weeks to go in the semester, the last thing Plymouth State needs is another abrupt end.