QUINCY -- Quincy University asked students, staff and faculty late last week to follow stricter guidelines on dining, shopping and socializing in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19 on campus.
"We have a plan. We're following the plan, and we're updating it as needed," QU Director of Community Relations Matt Bergman said.
The latest updates, the 66th to the plan, followed an increase in students showing COVID-19 symptoms and testing positive.
"While QU students, faculty and staff have been very successful in following our procedures for contact tracing and quarantining, we need to do more to reduce our number of infections," according to an email to the QU community from QU President Brian McGee and QU Vice President for Student Development Christine Tracy. "Doing so will create a better academic experience for our students and make our community safer."
With the changes, effective last Friday, dine-in services no longer is provided in the QU cafeteria and Student Center, with students asked to eat meals either outdoors or in their residence hall rooms or suites alone or only with roommates.
Students, staff and faculty have been asked to avoid all indoor restaurants and bars until Friday, Oct. 9, but takeout and delivery orders continue to be acceptable.
For the rest of the academic term, students, staff and faculty are encouraged to avoid unnecessary shopping or other trips away from campus, even for those who live off-campus, and students should eliminate socializing indoors in favor of outdoor events for small groups while still following masking and physical distancing directions.
As of the latest update, 87 positive COVID-19 tests have been reported after students arrived at QU. Of those 44 have active infections and are in quarantine, and 43 have completed quarantine and are not active cases. Another 116 students, including all active positive cases, were in quarantine, but 15 students were scheduled to end quarantine on Sunday.
Bergman said QU has done two rounds of surveillance testing – randomly testing a total of nearly 300 students – with testing done last Monday finding 18 positive cases out of about 140 tests.
With the testing, "we think we actually do things a little better," Bergman said. "We're able to catch asymptomatic cases, quarantine those people and stop any infection spread."
Finding the asymptomatic cases helped trigger the changes in the latest update "to reduce a couple places where there could be infection spreading," Bergman said. "We feel like we've done a good job of keeping people safe. The surveillance testing added another element for us."
Contact tracing and other data from the first six weeks on campus show that students likely are not getting infected in classes, labs or other instruction activities, the email said, but in their residential or social activities, whether they live on campus or off campus.
"Simply put, some students this semester have had too much contact with too many people they thought would remain uninfected. The result has been that infections have spread slowly but steadily from one individual and one student group to another," the email said.
Bergman said QU is fortunate to have staff and facilities for proper quarantining. Unused dorm space and the North Campus residence facilities have been designated as quarantine sites with a system set up to deliver food to students.
"We continue to make changes, follow the recommendations, follow the science," Bergman said. "We're being proactive, and in a lot of cases, we're doing more than what's recommended."