Front: COVID-19 Cases Climb on Campus

Students’ return to campus coincides with a national rise in COVID-19 infections

Clare McKinley, Staff Writer

Over the past two weeks, Xavier has seen an increase in COVID-19 cases reflective of the recent outbreaks in surrounding counties and the rest of the country.

The first case reported to Xavier COVID Support Services was on Aug. 22. Since then, there have been 89 student-reported cases.

Students can get tested in one of two ways. They can contact Xavier COVID Support Services via email and schedule an in-person test at the HUB or take an at-home test. Senior marketing and entrepreneurship major Jared Agnew started to feel sick last week and said it was easy to get everything sorted out.

“I contacted COVID Support and they told me to take an at-home test which I got for free from Flynn Hall,” Agnew stated.

After it came back positive, he went into five days of isolation, causing him to miss classes and hanging out with friends.

“It’s not ideal, COVID has made me fall behind in schooling, but it is early in the semester and I have been messaging with my professors. I don’t feel like I’m in too bad of a position and will definitely recover with their help,” he reflected.

The Center for Diseasse Control reports that in recent weeks there has been an 18.8% increase in hospital admissions and a 17.6% increase in death as a result of COVID-19. These trends have been suspected to be the result of the hotter weather, increased travel for summer, children going back to school and a new variant of Omicron, BA.2.86.

Assistant Director of Health & Wellness Administration Marybeth Sullivan recognized that these new cases go beyond just Xavier, sharing that as of Aug. 25, Hamilton County has been classified at a medium level, meaning there are between 10 and 20 new cases weekly.

“I don’t think this is just a Xavier thing. We now have a couple years of data that helped us anticipate the surge we recently experienced. With the new academic year and returning to campus from all parts of the U.S. and locations abroad, we have consistently seen an uptick in our positive cases being reported through the first few weeks of school,” Sullivan said. 

COVID-19 trends over the past couple years and weeks suggest it may never fully go away, especially as new variants emerge. Xavier and other universities must adapt to surges in cases all the time, according to Sullivan. 

“I have worked with COVID Support since the inception of these services. I would say that the spike is less significant and how we respond to it has also changed. COVID-19 will likely continue to exist in the population, and will change in mutations just like the flu, but it is no longer considered a global health emergency,” she said. “Xavier will continue to embrace the recommendations of the CDC for COVID-19.”

As the semester goes on and COVID-19 spreads, Agnew gave his two-cents to any students who start to feel sick.  

“Rest now and worry about school later. Make sure to communicate with your professors, and when you start feeling better, you’ll be able to do your best work. It’s not worth forcing it to get an assignment in on time. Most important thing is to focus on yourself,” he said.