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The Antelope

The Antelope

UNK COVID-19 active cases continue to rise

Photo by Ryan Johnson The Public Health Department suggests maintaing social distancing and wearing masks.

The Two Rivers Public Health Department announced a new record Friday as the number of active cases of COVID-19 in and around Buffalo County climbed to 95, beating the area’s previous May peak of 86. 

University officials saw it coming.

“We knew it was coming three weeks ago,” said John Falconer, senior advisor to the chancellor. “One of the resources we look at— the Med Center provides us some data and analysis— they’ve been telling us since the middle of September [that] there’s going to be a significant uptick in cases about this time, maybe over the next week or so. So it was already calculated into our thinking.”

According to data acquired from the Two Rivers Public Health Department’s and the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services’ online COVID-19 dashboards, the health district’s increase represented nearly 8.8% of Nebraska’s total increase for Friday, when the state saw its steepest rise in cases to date with 1085 new active cases. 

The increases in the seven county area come as the university posts it’s highest case count yet at 40 active cases among students, faculty, and staff.

Falconer suggests that this number may not tell the whole story.

“That [number] would say less than one percent,”  Falconer said. “I think that’s a little low. I think we’re probably three or four percent because of asymptomatic people.”

Of the 39 random tests conducted by Test Nebraska last week, one returned positive for an infection rate of 2.56% among the sample.

Convincing students to accept random test selections remains a challenge for getting an accurate assessment of infection rates on campus.

“I want to make sure students know we get that it’s hard,” Falconer said. “There are people who tell us,”We’re not going to come get tested because I feel fine. What if you lock me in my room for two weeks?” 

Quarantines, isolations, and general regulations on campus remain vital ways for the university to combat the virus on campus, but as students leave campus they have less control over the situation.

Public health officials stress the importance of maintaining social distancing. According to Two Rivers Public Health Department guidance in their press releases, cloth masks are not a substitute for social distancing. If students suspect they may have symptoms of COVID-19, they should contact Student Health to schedule an appointment.

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