Journey Ahead Update: Cases Are Rising...Here's What You Need to Know
As the third week of the fall semester comes to a close, our campus is experiencing a significant increase in active COVID-19 transmission. Because we want to help you to make informed choices about how you can protect yourselves and those around you, we felt it is important to examine the data closely, and in context.
The following is available also on the COVID-19 Dashboard.
Today’s Dashboard update reports
- 49 students on campus tested positive for COVID-19 from Friday, August 20, through Thursday, August 26;
- four (4) faculty and/or staff members tested positive for COVID-19 during the same timeframe; and
- combined with individuals from last week who have not yet recovered, today’s count stands at 55 total cases of COVID-19 on the Anderson University campus.
How you react to those statistics depends on your perspective. That’s why it’s important to examine the Dashboard numbers in context.
- The 55 active, on-campus cases of COVID-19 equals the highest number of cases at one time we’ve experienced thus far. (Yes, that includes at any point through all of 2020 and the spring of 2021.) It matches our previous high of 55 total cases reported on Sept. 18, 2020, when infections spiked following Labor Day.
- The third week of the fall semester is in the books, and total on-campus cases of COVID-19 thus far stands at 98. It took 14 weeks to reach the same number of cases during the spring 2021 semester, when there were only 99 cases in total.
- This week, among students, unvaccinated individuals made up 41 of the 53 new cases of COVID-19. It’s true that those who’ve been vaccinated can become infected with the coronavirus, but a majority of cases are among those who’ve chosen not to be vaccinated (and the same is true for hospitalizations and deaths.) For example, in South Carolina, 88% of cases, 77% of hospitalizations, and 79% of deaths were among unvaccinated individuals (as of July 31, 2021, per the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control.)
That being said, what we’re experiencing right now in no way constitutes a crisis. To be clear, we’re not minimizing our shared concern. But let’s keep a few things in mind:
- Approximately 8.5% of people on campus have contracted COVID-19 (of which we’re aware.) That’s lower than the roughly 12 percent of South Carolinians who’ve contracted the virus, and significantly lower than the percentage at most colleges or universities in our region (based on publicly available data.)
- The increase in cases from week one until now isn’t a huge surprise—after all, our first Dashboard update came before the majority of students returned to campus. New student move-in was Wednesday, August 11, meaning there was barely 24 hours-worth of data compiled—from just a fraction of our campus population—before we published our first update of the year. (As a reminder, cases are tallied at 5 p.m. each Thursday so that the Dashboard can be updated by 9 a.m. the next day.)
In other words, there is a level of subjectivity when interpreting Dashboard data. Facts are facts, of course, but context matters.
Here’s what’s not subjective: COVID-19 still poses a threat to our health and safety, and the Delta variant has introduced a level of uncertainty that we haven’t experienced since the beginning of the pandemic. That’s why, no matter how you look at the recent spike in cases at AU and around the country, it’s important to follow protocols. Wear a mask when required. Stay at least three feet away from others. Practice good hand hygiene. Stay home when you are sick.
If we do that, perhaps we can look back on August 27, 2021, as the moment when the fourth wave of COVID-19 crested at Anderson University—and signaled the beginning of the end of the pandemic.
Time—and how we care for ourselves and each other—will tell.
Starting today, we’re publishing the number of on-campus infections among those who have not received one of the available vaccines, as well as the total on-campus cases to date. We hope the weekly Dashboard report will prove useful as you make a personal, informed choice regarding vaccination.