COLLEGE STATION, TX — The U.S. has surpassed a total of 10 million confirmed coronavirus cases according to John Hopkins University.
Locally in College Station, Texas A&M University is adjusting their COVID-19 protocols due to an increase in positivity rates among students.
“We’ve always had testing widely available; we’re putting out some of our deployable teams who are going to be going to some of the dormitories and be available to make testing more convenient. We’re trying to lower barriers to testing as much as we can,” says Shawn Gibbs, Texas A&M Dean of the School of Public Health.
Two new clusters of the virus were confirmed on Monday, one at the Artillery Band Dorm 12 and one at the Special Events division of Texas A&M’s Emergency Medical Services. This comes on the same day Texas A&M Football announced it was pausing practice due to positive cases on the team. School officials say contact tracers are linking many of the cases to off-campus social gatherings.
“What we’re seeing is the contact tracers are indicating that it’s social behavior. It’s going out there going out to a party that deep down you know you shouldn’t be going to and it’s the behavior of not wearing masks at those parties and not social distancing,” says Gibbs.
School officials are pointing to the Halloween weekend. According to A&M’s COVID-19 dashboard, the positivity rate on campus nearly doubled. The week ending on Halloween, the positivity rate was 4.8%. The next week, the positivity rate was up to 8.1%. Students say they feel like a lot of people are becoming more relaxed.
“You know I think people are kind of getting tired of this pandemic and starting to get lackadaisical about it. It’s starting to become an everyday thing. It’s gotten very normalized right now,” says A&M junior, Giselle Warren.
Locally, Brazos County has over 600 active cases as of Tuesday. In the state of Texas, just over 963,000 active cases as of Monday night. Officials saying these numbers are due to increase community spread.
“The record number of new cases cannot just be attributed to increasing testing, there is community spread that we are seeing that we’re trying to address nationally in the state of Texas, here within Brazos County and here within A&M University as well,” says Gibbs
Back on A&M’s campus, over 4 thousand students are taking advantage of the free COVID testing kiosks last week.
“I think it’s almost the bare minimum that we can do just because of how important information like this can be. So, I think that the more people that we can have that are tested, the more information we get and the more that we can track and hopefully contain the spread of coronavirus,” says A&M Sophomore, Archer Morrow.
With exactly two weeks until in-person instruction will be over for the semester at A&M, school officials are urging the Aggie community to continue social distancing and wear a facial covering.