COVID-19 student cases on the rise in two-week surge

By Austin Ferguson

After recording just one positive COVID-19 test in the week before Valentine’s Day, Rider University has received a dozen positive tests in the following two weeks, including six in the last two days alone, the university’s COVID-19 dashboard reported on Feb. 23.

The surge started with the week from Feb. 15 to Feb. 21, when Rider’s COVID-19 dashboard reported six new positive cases. From Feb. 22 to Feb. 23 alone, another six cases were reported on the same dashboard, all amongst students.

The spread of positive cases is the same between the two weeks, with each period containing four positive cases among on-campus students and two cases among off-campus students.

The two-week total of 12 cases is the highest since the period from Jan. 25 to Feb. 7, where 13 cases were reported among students, nine of which were registered from Jan. 25 – Jan. 31.

Rider Vice President for Strategic Initiatives and Planning and Secretary to the Board Debbie Stasolla foresaw the surge in cases with an increase in testing at the beginning of the semester.

“Because we are doing more testing, we’re going to have more cases and close contacts,” Stasolla said on Feb. 9. “That is the nature of the beast.”

Rider completed 479 tests over the past two weeks, including 297 between Feb. 15 and Feb. 21, the highest single-week total of tests since the onset of required tests for students returning to campus.

Despite the surge in cases, this is the third straight week that has not had a Rider employee, on or off-campus, test positive for COVID-19. Not counting contracted employees who do not work directly for the university, it has been over a month since the last positive case of a Rider employee, which came from an off-campus employee in the last week of January. The last positive case from an on-campus employee came between Jan. 11 to Jan. 17, according to the university dashboard.

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