Community First Releases New COVID-19 Campus Statistics

Garrett Whitton, Staff Writer

Students and faculty recently experienced their first working break. Implemented by the administration before the spring semester started, these periods replace the vacation breaks students had prior to the pandemic. No assignments, exams or papers were due, and the University urged students to clear their minds and catch up on sleep. During this time, the student body received a series of emails containing updates on the latest COVID-19 situation on and around campus. 

A blue graphic displaying the University’s logo and the words “Community First: The CARITAS Commitment” greeted readers in the weekly email. The University sent this first email out during the late afternoon on Feb. 15, and provided case numbers from the previous week.

It began by listing the 173 new positive cases among students and faculty. Despite this being an alarming quantity, the email emphasized the significant decrease from the 397 cases recorded during the week before. Then, it disclosed the total amount of surveillance (1,525) and diagnostic tests (317) that the Student Health Center administered in addition to the percentages of isolation (59%) and quarantine (69%) space available at the end of the week. The University will send the next update on Feb. 22, which will reflect the numbers from Feb. 15-21.

At the end of last week, another list was sent out that highlighted updates with explanations. This included expectations of the working break, incite on regular contact the University has with nearby health departments, information on the directive that University President Rev. Peter M. Donohue O.S.A., Ph.D. ordered about two weeks ago and the status of the long-awaited vaccine. Through the Pennsylvania Department of Health, the University has registered to be a vaccine provider. But, due to limited doses nationwide, no specific date has been given for its arrival here on campus. 

“At this time, the Student Health Center highly recommends that any Villanova community member who can obtain the vaccination elsewhere should do so,” the email said.

In a second email sent from the Office of the President, an attached file contains a video of University President Rev. Peter M. Donohue O.S.A., Ph.D., stressing the importance of the directive he has set in place. He began his nearly two-minute-long video thanking those putting the community first and then reiterating the directive’s instructions. A few include “removing your mask only when actively eating or drinking” and “sitting only in designated areas.” Though these are good reminders, the most crucial part was his directive extension until Monday, Feb. 22. 

“It is important that we have another low-key weekend before these guidelines are lifted,” Donohue expressed in the video.

A day later, the University sent the last email to students subscribed to the Wildcat Newswire, the University’s weekly bulletin. It included links to web pages that give more information on the matters discussed in the video, while also listing what is happening on campus throughout the week. Students are encouraged to utilize these links to understand the transpiring situation better.

Though these emails were not in the same string of messages and sent at different times, the information in each must be read carefully and comprehended. Understanding the material will encourage students to wear their masks, pay attention to who and how many people they are with and spend most of their time in their rooms away from those who may be experiencing symptoms. Performing these actions will not only slow the spread, but it will help get our community back to where it once was.