COVID-19 Dashboard Update with Encouraging Trends Developing (Message from President Brian O. Hemphill, Ph.D. to All Students, Faculty, and Staff)
Dear Radford Family:
Later today, Radford University’s COVID-19 Dashboard will be updated to provide comprehensive data regarding campus-based testing, including the total number of tests administered and the overall positivity rate. For this week’s update, a number of charts and other helpful information will also be added in order to illustrate recent activity.
The data will show an increase in confirmed cases as expected by the Virginia Department of Health’s New River Health District. However, we were recently advised by New River Health District Director Noelle Bissell, M.D. that the number of local confirmed cases has plateaued and is beginning to decline as evident when examining weekly data and daily trends. Although this is very positive news, our campus community needs to be very diligent in continuing to follow Commonwealth of Virginia requirements, Radford University expectations, and public health guidance.
Last Friday, Radford University, in partnership with the New River Health District, hosted two testing sites on the main campus for students, as well as faculty and staff. As part of this surveillance testing, 492 individuals were tested with a total of 24 positive cases identified, resulting in a positivity rate of 4.88%. Of those confirmed positive cases, there were 23 students, one staff member, and no faculty members. These results support the comprehensive nature of the University’s COVID-19 planning and response efforts. We were both aggressive and efficient in our planning, and our response has been consistent. As we are helping those who have been impacted, we are also holding those accountable who have contributed to the spread of COVID-19 in our community.
The surveillance testing results prove that individuals who are engaging on campus and following public health guidance have a positivity rate that is less than the Commonwealth of Virginia and significantly less than the symptomatic students and close contacts who are being tested through the Student Health Center. This, once again, speaks to the importance of not engaging in off-campus activities or large gatherings in which individuals are placing their own health at risk. Please know that we look forward to offering testing opportunities at RUC in the form of surveillance testing, as well as on-going testing through student health services, which have been finalized and will be available very soon. And, we will continue our commitment to offer surveillance testing on the main campus.
Our campus continues to be a safe learning and living environment as we are disinfecting individual classrooms and common areas twice a day. Disinfecting has been prioritized over cleaning in an effort to ensure a healthy environment. We are requiring face coverings on campus and have reconfigured classrooms to enable physical distancing. Clear barriers have been installed in many areas, including at the front of podiums in classrooms and throughout reception areas in customer-facing offices. Our students, faculty, staff, and visitors are completing daily health screenings and being supported through campus services and individual requests.
Dr. Bissell recently shared, “Radford University has been the model of how to manage the return of students to campus during this pandemic. Together, we have weathered the storm. We are through the worst of it. What has happened is exactly what we predicted, and there have been no signs of community transmission.” During a time in which we are seeing an encouraging trend and receiving tremendous support from public health officials, like Dr. Bissell and her dedicated team, social responsibility remains so very critical to our campus, our community, and our success. Please join me and your fellow Highlanders in maintaining our commitment to providing an in-person Radford experience for the remainder of the semester and beyond!
With Highlander Pride,
Brian O. Hemphill, Ph.D.