Coronavirus: New UD cases remain in single digits for second day

Bree Nurray, a University of Dayton senior from Pittsburgh, takes an online class on the front porch of her rental house on the campus Wednesday Aug. 26, 2020.

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Bree Nurray, a University of Dayton senior from Pittsburgh, takes an online class on the front porch of her rental house on the campus Wednesday Aug. 26, 2020.

New COVID-19 cases at the University of Dayton remained in the single digits for the first time in more than a month, days after the Montgomery County health commissioner warned students he’d recommend classes remain online the remainder of the semester if cases don’t improve.

Six new cases were reported on Sunday, down from 18 on Saturday, according to the university. On Tuesday, the school reported eight cases.

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UD has reported a total of 1,135 coronavirus cases since Aug. 10, and the numbers have fluctuated daily. On Friday, the school reported 30 new cases, the lowest since Aug. 23, when it had 32 new cases. The university updates its cases a day after they are collected.

“We are encouraged by the lower number of new cases being diagnosed and the fact that most students completed isolation, meaning we have fewer active cases on campus,” officials said in a statement Tuesday. “We have seen ebbs and flows in the data, and will continue to evaluate trends this week in consultation with public health and our panel of medical experts to determine whether to return to in-person instruction or continue virtual learning. We ask the entire campus community to continue to be diligent in following safety protocols, including wearing masks and maintaining physical distance.”

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On Friday, Jeffrey A. Cooper, who heads Public Health-Dayton and Montgomery County, wrote that the university’s coronavirus outbreak is “a major threat to the public’s health and the well-being of our citizens.” Saying the university put in place a strong safety protocol, he called on students to do their part in an effort to slow the spread of the virus on campus.

The low number of cases on campus is a good sign, however, it’s too early to say whether UD’s cases have plateaued, said Dan Suffoletto, the health department’s spokesman. Given COVID-19′s 14-day incubation period, the number of cases need to be low for a longer period of time before officials can determine whether there’s a trend or if cases are starting to subside, he said.

Even so, people should not become complacent, and they should continue following the safety protocol, which includes wearing masks, social distancing, frequent hand washing and avoiding large crowds, Suffoletto said.

“So, if those things can be maintained, then we hope the numbers can continue to go down,” he said.

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UD has had random surveillance testing in place for the past several weeks, and has tested up to 1,000 students weekly. However, last week they paused the program to allow university testing sites to meet the demand for tests from students who were experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, were close contacts of those diagnosed, or otherwise wished to be tested, the school said.

The surveillance program resumed this week, and is focused on potential hot spots for the virus, including residence halls. Officials said they anticipate testing several hundred students per week under the surveillance program moving forward, with the number varying each week. Students are being notified directly via email if they are selected for testing. Additionally, the on-campus testing locations for students with and without symptoms will continue.

Students can also be tested off campus by their physician or at local urgent cares, the institution said.

Other area colleges and universities have not reported new cases this week.

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