COVID-19, flu cases rise on campus amid ‘tripledemic’

Dec. 8, 2022, 9:14 p.m.

With winter break fast approaching, COVID-19 and flu cases are on the rise on campus, according to University statistics and student reports.

Positive COVID-19 results increased by nearly 80% in the week of Nov. 28 from the week prior, according to the University’s COVID-19 dashboard.

University spokesperson Luisa Rapport said this increase reflects “the widely expected increase in COVID and influenza cases statewide” and attributed the rise in cases to a “combination of seasonal rise, increased seasonal rise, increased social activities and travel for many during the holiday season.” 

Medicine professor and infectious disease expert Dean Winslow said other factors could be involved. “We’ve relaxed the social distancing and the masking requirements, so we are seeing more transmission as a result of that,” he said.

As of Dec. 5, 82 students were isolating due to COVID-19. The week prior, there were 35 students. This has prompted some students to worry about how their COVID status may interfere with their final exams.

“I’m moderately worried about it, but I think I’ll be okay,” said Selena Niemi ‘26. “Obviously, you’re like, ‘I hope I don’t get sick before finals.’” 

Support will be available for students who test positive for COVID-19 immediately before winter break, according to the Student Affairs website.

According to the website, “Quarantine housing and meals are provided for COVID positive undergraduates on campus during winter closure.” However, “those living in grad housing should continue to isolate in-place.”

Following winter break, Winslow said he anticipates further increases in COVID-19 cases. “We may actually see even a larger uptick following the Christmas holidays,” Winslow said.

He maintained, however, that students should still enjoy their breaks. “The years don’t stop just because of things like this,” Winslow said. “But I would advise people to consider, at least, avoiding crowded indoor events and, as much as possible, wearing masks.” 

According to the Student Affairs website, students will be required to test before traveling to campus and again upon their arrival.

Although the University doesn’t track influenza cases on the dashboard, many residences have been plagued by the flu this quarter. 

“I got the flu, and it was worse than getting COVID,” said Shevaun Yip ’26. “Influenza just took me out.” 

“We’re seeing a pretty dramatic increase of not just COVID but also Influenza A and RSV — respiratory syncytial virus — all over the country,” Winslow said. He believes this to be a result of low immunization rates this year. According to Winslow, the influenza vaccine “is actually very effective against all four of the virus strains.”

“I’m certainly encouraging all my patients to get up to date on both flu and COVID-19 vaccines,” Winslow added. 

With the prevalence of both COVID-19 and influenza on campus, many students have their fingers crossed that they can make it through the finals week without a positive diagnosis. 

“I feel like if I haven’t gotten sick in the last couple days, I should be fine,” Niemi said. “Touch wood.” 

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