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COVID 19 update for the week of September 30 to October 6

The College has been at the green level since Sept. 9, meaning that there are “few identified or contained cases,” symptom surveillance is at the seasonal norm, and compliance with mitigation efforts is very high.

As of Oct. 6, 45,631 negative tests, eleven positive cases, and 466 inconclusive tests (or 1% of the total) have been identified since testing began. Currently, there is one positive case in isolation and five students are in quarantine, down from six in quarantine last week.

The positive cases are made up of four faculty or staff members and seven students. Ten positive cases have recovered since testing began.

At the green level, programs and activities can happen, indoor spaces have fewer seats, and group sizes are limited (to 50 for official events and ten for unofficial student gatherings, both requiring distancing and masks).

The College’s COVID-19 Health Code and Testing Data page now includes data on the active cases in the state of Maine from the Maine Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Students can see the number of cases by county. Kennebec County, where the College is located, has 29 active cases as of Oct. 5.

Dean of the College Karlene Burrell-McRae `94 emailed the student body on Oct. 2 about heightened COVID-19 risks associated with both student behaviors and rising case numbers in the state.

She wrote that, according to the Maine CDC, nine percent of all of the positive cases in the state since March had occured in the last two weeks. These cases are spiking in southern Maine in three counties: 154 in York County, 194 in Cumberland County, and 93 in Androscoggin County.

These developments are concerning because students, according to Burrell-McRae, have not been diligent in mitigating their risk of getting COVID-19. She wrote that “less than half of our community is using the CoVerified application to report their symptoms on a daily basis.”

Students are also missing their COVID-19 tests, not using the proper face coverings, if using them at all, not social distancing, not following directional flows in buildings, and maintaining good hygiene.

Burrell-McRae warned that these behaviors, combined with the rising cases in the state, could result in a change of the color code, and, with it, tougher restrictions on how in person activities can occur, if at all. Burrell-McRae specifically mentioned the possibility of needing to shift to remote learning, as was done in Spring 2020.

Burrell-McRae also forwarded a message to students and employees on Sept. 30 that she had sent to Colby families, telling them to be cautious with any plans to visit students.

She said that families planning to visit students after getting a negative COVID-19 test should remember that “because of the time it takes for the virus to appear in a test, it is possible to test negative immediately before arriving, show no symptoms during a visit (or at all), and then test positive in the days following, having potentially spread the virus to your student and anyone else who came into contact with you.”

Burrell-McRae shared that this scenario has played out at the College, causing students to be both isolated and quarantined.

She closed with a reminder that students are not allowed to leave the state of Maine except for in “extenuating circumstances” that require advance permission.


~ Sonia Lachter `22

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