With the return of in-person classes, a rise in COVID-19 cases was almost inevitable. However, as the semester continues, the increase in cases has become more than many hoped for.
The university remains optimistic about the current state of the virus on campus. In a recent email to students announcing an extended mask mandate, they said that “a review of infection rates (approximately 1%) indicates Clemson’s rigorous testing strategy combined with its current mask mandate is having the desired positive effect.”
But is the percent positivity rate a good measure of the current spread of the virus? Not exactly. In an article from Johns Hopkins University, researchers said that “it is important to note that test positivity is a measure of testing capacity and while it can provide important context about case totals and trends, it is NOT a measure of how prevalent the virus is in communities.”
A more applicable measure to determine the severity of the situation is to look at the current number of active cases. While the university does not provide this information directly, one calculate it by looking at the number of new cases in the last ten days, which is how long students are supposed to isolate for, according to Clemson’s guidelines. When calculating the rolling, 10-day sum of cases, at least 457 students and faculty “actively” have COVID-19 and should be in isolation.
This semester, the university has limited isolation and quarantine accomodations and have heavily encouraged quarantining elsewhere when possible, leading to only 63 of those 457 students residing in university COVID-19 accomodations. While one would hope the other students are fully isolated, it is possible that some of these students may be still interacting with members of the community.
On Sept. 16, 2020, there were 808 active cases on campus. While cases now are roughly half of this time last year, the number of active cases has continued to rise as the semester has continued. It is unclear whether the spread of the virus is in vaccinated or unvaccinated individuals. About 55% of students have reported fully receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.
1,802 students have tested positive for COVID-19 since the start of in-person class on Aug. 13, which is 4.4% of students, or roughly one in 25.
Since regular testing began on June 1, 2020, 9,301 Clemson affiliates have tested positive. $50 in Paw Points is being offered to those who submit proof of vaccination. 55% of students reporting having been vaccinated nearly matches the national percentage, but is higher than the 45% of South Carolinians who are vaccinated.
Clemson University did not respond to multiple requests for comment on the rising number of cases.