CNU and COVID-19

Here’s what COVID looks like right now at Christopher Newport

~Felix Phommachanh, Staff Writer~

This article was written last week before the recent spike in COVID-19 outbreak at CNU

The Fall Semester of 2020 for CNU was an interesting experience, as it was the semester with COVID-19. The University required us to check if we have any covid related symptoms and if we do, we are contacted by a team of trackers/managers to see if we need quarantine or isolation for two weeks or so. It was a good plan; however, the downside to CNU’s plan was how they displayed how many were quarantined, how many were isolated, how many students tested positive, etc. Compared to other universities like VCU and VT, it is terrible. VCU’s COVID dashboard may not have a graph like CNU’s; however, it displays a daily count of the new cases for students and employees, which also goes back to last month’s case counts for each week. It also displays the number of those tested and the results. If we then compare CNU’s dashboard to VT, it is even more drastic. Virginia Tech COVID dashboard has a bar graph displaying all their total tests as well as their positive tests, and unlike CNU’s graph, VT’s displays their past days, showing how many people have been tested over a long length of time and showing the trends. 

Maybe I am being a bit too hard on CNU, being that VCU and VT are much bigger universities compared to it. Longwood University is closer in scope. And comparing Longwood’s COVID dashboard is a bit better than CNU still. Longwood does not have the bar graph; however it shows total active cases, and reports their cases daily. You can go back to January 4, 2021 and see how many people tested positive. Overall, CNU’s COVID-19 dashboard is lacking compared to other universities. The bar graph only displays the daily accounts, so we cannot see how much the cases increase/decrease over a length of time. In addition, the isolation and quarantine data is a week behind the current time, making it a useless piece of data. A CNU allumi made a better and more transparent COVID tracker for CNU, which shows a line graph of how many students are directed to self-quarantine, active reports, and total reported COVID-19 cases. 

Now to Spring 2021: CNU requires students to be tested before moving in. This was a good change compared to Fall 2020 as just check temperature and ask questions of if you had COVID symptoms. This change is related to how scientists found more ways to accurately test if an individual had COVID. From personal experience, I wished CNU did this the first time. My sister is a freshman at VCU and before she moved it, the university requires that students must test negative before choosing a test slot to move in. The university offered them a kit for a nose swab and my sister took it and tested negative. They did the same thing in Spring 2021 with the kit having saliva instead of nose swab.

Spring 2021, CNU requires students to get tested, either at home, or at a field clinic on campus. Good options; however, the initial email was a bit confusing as if you are getting a test at home, you must get the test two day prior to you arriving on campus, to which you need the results to show you tested negative. Kevin Hugh did clear the confusion with that you must be administered the test 48 hours before arriving with the results in hand. You can use a PCR test or an antigen test. The antigen test is roughly 20-30 minute to get the results, while the PCR test is 2-5 days to get the results. I took the PCR test at my local Patient First as they only give the antigen test to those who had symptoms of COVID. I lucked out that I got my result as I was heading down to CNU. 

I wished CNU did the first time, but better late than never, right? Overall, CNU response to COVID has been okay, cracking down on people gathering and what now, but I wished they would be more transparent with the data gathered, like showing the past days numbers instead of the daily only and changing the bar graph to be a line graph to show the increase/decrease in daily cases. As of writing this (2/8/2020), CNU has 110 students who tested positive. Last my roommates and I checked on Friday (2/5/2020), it was at 72-74 positive. It is a jump, and this will increase with secret/off-campus Super Bowl 55 parties in the coming weeks. Overall, people need to remember we are not at the end of this pandemic. It is still here, still affecting all walks of life, still spreading, and new variants strains are popping up. Put aside politics, take off your tinfoil hats and start critically thinking on how we can do better in stopping the spread of COVID-19 on campus.

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