From January 16-22, 333 cases of COVID-19 were reported, the highest number of weekly cases in the 2021-22 academic year.
According to the latest update from Vanderbilt COVID-19 Dashboard333 people in the Vanderbilt community tested positive during the opening week of the 2022 spring semester. The total number of cases, the positivity rate of the vaccinated population and the positivity rate of the unvaccinated population are all highest so far in the 2021-22 academic year.
Between January 16 and 22, 1.57% of the vaccinated population and 3.59% of the unvaccinated population tested positive for COVID-19. This number of positive cases shows an increase of 674.4% compared to the statistics for the last week of the fall 2021 semester, which announced 43 positive cases. Positivity rates in vaccinated and unvaccinated populations are also up by 0.22% and 0.25%, respectively. The dashboard does not specify the number of tests administered during this time, and a university spokesperson said he could not offer The Hustler any further information on these statistics.
“Like other communities across the country, Vanderbilt and the Nashville area are experiencing a significant increase in COVID-19 cases due to the rise of the omicron variant,” Vanderbilt’s dashboard reads. “Although much more contagious than previous variants, evidence shows that omicron infection results in significantly less severe disease.”
Dashboards for the 2020-21 academic year are no longer available on Vanderbilt’s website but can be viewed in the university’s live COVID-19 data spreadsheet. The 2020-2021 dashboards included graphs showing a daily distribution of positive cases among different student populations such as on-campus and off-campus undergraduates, as well as graduate students. The 2021-22 dashboards only show the total number of test cases per week in “the Vanderbilt community” and the percentages of vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals who tested positive. At press time, the spreadsheet has yet to be updated to include spring 2022 data.
The percentage of vaccinated individuals in the Vanderbilt community – 96% – remains unchanged since the end of the fall 2021 semester. Statistics regarding the number of students who received the booster are currently not disclosed by the university. The spokesperson did not immediately respond to The Hustler’s inquiry into the matter.
Students who have not provided proof of receipt of a reminder are matter to weekly COVID-19 testing in the spring semester of 2022. Individuals who have provided no proof of vaccination are subject to the required asymptomatic testing twice a week. These policies are a change from the fall 2021 semester, during which unvaccinated people were required to get tested weekly.
Individuals who have provided documentation of the initial series of vaccines and a booster shot are exempt from routine asymptomatic testing, but unlike others, are included in the sentinel testing program. The program tests a random sample of individuals from the Vanderbilt community weekly to prevent and predict COVID-19 trends. This technique is commonly used with respect to vaccine-preventable diseases.
The spike in COVID-19 cases has occurred over the Commodores care period, which imposed several restrictions from January 18 to 24, such as converting dining halls to “take-out” format, closing libraries and preventing students from interacting in person with people other than their roommates. . These restrictions followed a week delay of the semester.
Freshman Augustus Boettcher commented on the increase in cases, mentioning that he finds it ironic that cases increased during the Commodores Care period.
“You would think that after all these restrictions and preparations, it wouldn’t happen,” Boettcher said.
Sophomore Andrew Hu pointed to the spike in cases, despite Commodores Care policies.
“In fact, students were encouraged to break Commodores Care period rules as they struggled to adapt to its unreasonable set of policies,” Hu said.
Graduate students have also protested university policies regarding the omicron variant with protests against January 18 and January 26. The protests were fueled by an online message petition launched by graduate students, which has garnered 512 signatures at the time of printing, and the administration’s response thereto. The petition calls for “accessible hybrid options”, “wider testing accessibility” and “clear and consistent” COVID-19 guidelines.
The university spokesperson said in an email to The Hustler that the university would relay updates and additional information as the situation develops, but otherwise dismissed The Hustler to the information provided in the dashboard.
“The vast majority of students, faculty, and staff with positive cases report mild symptoms that typically resolve within a day or two,” a statement on the COVID-19 dashboard reads. “As always, we will monitor the latest data available and respond accordingly to protect the health and safety of the Vanderbilt community.”
Vanderbilt Politics states that those who have received a positive COVID-19 test result must quarantine for five days after they begin to experience symptoms or after receiving their result, whichever comes first. They can resume campus activities after five days if they remain or become asymptomatic, provided they wear a “tight” mask for another 10 days.