Georgetown University implemented additional public health guidelines after seeing its biggest one-day jump in COVID-19 cases among university community members just before the fall semester concluded.
The university took immediate steps to limit COVID-19 transmission before the fall semester ended Dec. 17 after 34 members of the Georgetown community tested positive for COVID-19 on Dec. 14, constituting the highest positivity rate to date at 2.36%.
In accordance with new public health precautions on campus, all dining locations operated under a grab-and-go model, university-sponsored events were canceled or held outside and fitness centers were closed, according to a Dec. 15 email from Chief Public Health Officer Ranit Mishori (MED ’02).
The new safety measures came after the university announced Dec. 14 that all Georgetown community members must provide documentation of their COVID-19 booster shot on or before Jan. 21.
The omicron variant of COVID-19 is spreading rapidly throughout the United States, with the number of omicron cases appearing to double every two days.
Cornell University suspended in person operations Dec. 14 as a result of a rise in COVID-19 cases, and by Dec. 17, 1,442 students had tested positive for COVID-19. Of the 115 samples from positive tests sent for omicron detection, all of them were identified as the omicron variant.
At Georgetown, COVID-19 testing samples from university tests have been sent for genomic sequencing that can detect the omicron variant, according to a university spokerson.
“We do not perform genomic sequencing in our labs, but have been working closely with the DC Department of Health and the NIH Vaccine Research Center on sequencing many of our samples. Many of our samples are being sent for genomic sequencing, but it takes several days to receive results,” the spokesperson wrote in an email to The Hoya.
A member of the Georgetown community tested positive for the omicron variant Dec. 12, but the individual had not been on campus since before Thanksgiving break, except to take a COVID-19 test, according to a Dec. 13 email from Mishori.
The university encouraged professors to move remaining final exams from an in-person format to an online or take-home format in an effort to minimize COVID-19 transmission, according to a Dec. 14 email from Provost Robert M. Groves.
At this point, isolation and quarantine requirements will remain the same for students who test positive for the omicron variant, according to the university spokesperson.
“At this moment, there are no changes to the isolation or quarantine requirements for those with the omicron variant,” the spokesperson wrote. “Anyone who tests positive, regardless of the variants, will have to isolate for 10 days, and our current isolation space for undergraduate residential students — the Leavey Center Hotel — will remain the isolation space for the Spring.”
Students who are not fully vaccinated and were exposed to somebody who tested positive for COVID-19 must quarantine for 10 days, while those who are fully vaccinated or who have tested positive for COVID-19 within the past three months do not have to quarantine, according to the university quarantine and isolation policy.
The university will continue to update students as the situation evolves and the spring semester approaches, according to the university spokesperson.
“We continue to monitor public health conditions and the University will be in close communication with our community as we near the start of spring semester activities,” the spokesperson wrote.