86 active, positive cases of COVID-19 were confirmed today at 11:30 a.m by the University of Tennessee Chancellor Donde Plowman during her COVID-19 live stream update. Streaming live from her home as she quarantines due to close contact, Plowman said in addition to the active cases, 578 students and staff, like Plowman, are currently self-isolating due to exposure.
The data showed that the highest peak of COVID-19 on campus surged during September, and then settled to a steadily flat line by the beginning of October. However, Plowman noted that by the first weekend in November, COVID-19 cases had begun to rise for the second time during this academic semester.
“As we look over this data, there is a concerning trend in the increase in active cases,” said Spencer Duncan Gregg, MD, who joined Plowman on the live stream update. “The largest increase appears to be the number of those who are having to quarantine to due close contact with a positive case.”
Gregg advised all students on and off-campus to receive a free flu shot at the Student Health Center, get tested for COVID-19 before leaving campus, and continue to practice all health and safety measures before and during your arrival at home to reduce spread.
Plowman asked Gregg how students and faculty can see friends and family when they return back home during the holidays.
“It’s going to be really rough,” said Gregg. “If you must participate in gatherings where, by the way, the highest likelihood of spread is occurring, then it ought to be limited to the outdoors.”
Gregg said if gatherings must be indoors, then one needs to supply heavy ventilation through opening windows and still keeping social distancing.
“Remain vigilant,” said Gregg. “Unfortunately, there’s still going to be circumstances, regardless of how safe we try to be, that exposure is going to occur. But these holidays aren’t going to be the same.”