By: Sruli Fruchter  | 

COVID-19 Cases Spike in YU Following a Month of Stability

11 COVID-19 cases were reported at Yeshiva University on the New York School COVID-19 Report Card from Nov. 21 to Dec. 2, almost tripling the total number of reported cases since undergraduate campuses reopened on Oct. 21.

The COVID-19 Tracker records on- and off-campus administered tests of students and employees on campus. YU’s original COVID-19 Tracker reported two cases between Oct. 10 and Oct. 23, and its new one — which, unlike the original, includes “Wilf and Beren Campuses” in the title — records four cases between Nov. 7 and Nov. 20 for a total of six cases in its first month. That figure combined with the 11 newest cases brings YU’s COVID-19 cases to 17 since reopening. According to the tracker, 24 students are currently quarantined on campus with 18 rooms in use.

“We are continuing to monitor for positive cases on campus,” Vice Provost for Student Affairs Chaim Nissel told The Commentator. “Most of the cases that are listed on the DOH [Department of Health] website as of today reflect infected students who were already in quarantine prior to the holiday weekend as a result having been identified as close contacts of another infected student.”

Nissel explained that it’s “not easy to pinpoint where people may get infected,” but students are reminded to follow safety precautions and avoid social gatherings. 

“Per our protocols, we continue to consult with our medical director [Dr. Robert van Amorengen] and to conduct contact tracing when notified of a positive case on campus,” he added. “We provide guidance based on each individual case. For those students who are quarantining on campus, our Office of Residence Life ensures they receive meals and support.”

The rise in positive cases at YU follows spikes in COVID-19 across New York State. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Monday, Nov. 30 that new safety measures will be implemented in response to the rising COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and daily fatalities. He tweeted on Wednesday, Dec. 2 that there were 69 deaths and 3,924 hospitalizations across NYS, in line with increasing COVID-19 cases over the past weeks.

According to YU’s COVID-19 Code of Behavior, students and employees on campus must submit daily screenings regarding COVID-19 exposure and common symptoms. People on campus are also required to participate in COVID-19 testing, which was downgraded from twice-a-week to once-a-week, according to a Nov. 5 email by Nissel. On Nov. 13, President Ari Berman emailed students that twice-a-week testing would be reinstated until Thanksgiving and possibly continued, citing the rising cases across NYS and New Jersey. As of publication, the twice-a-week testing is still in effect.

NYS guidelines mandate that if the lesser of 100 students or 5% of a university’s on-campus population test positive within a 14-day period, all in-person learning must move online and campus activities must be limited for 14 days.

Some students were nervous about the spike in cases and felt campus COVID-19 guidelines should have been stronger. “The current rise in cases scares me that we aren’t being careful enough on campus,” said Adina Passy (SCW ‘21), a resident advisor (RA) for Brookdale Hall on Beren Campus. “We weren’t quick enough to catch patient zero which is causing all of these outbreaks. I feel that just because we were doing well with cases, we lessened our safety rules, which should have been the opposite. I am scared that I might get the virus before coming home and then bring it to my parents.”

Other students felt confident in YU’s preventive measures thus far. “YU is doing the best they can, and are going above and beyond by requiring testing twice a week from all students on campus,” shared Sophomore and Isaac Breuer College Rep. Baruch Lerman (YC ‘23). “Ultimately, students are adults and need to take personal responsibility to stay safe and protect others.”

One RA felt this spike was to be expected and stressed the importance of students remaining safe. “It was inevitable that there were going to be COVID cases on campus, the amount of cases is totally up to the actions of students,” said Eli Seidman (SSSB ‘22), a Rubin Hall RA. “As the numbers are going up in NY/NJ we all need to make sure that we are doing our part … I think for the most part people are doing their part, but now is especially important to make sure we are vigilant to make sure cases on campus don’t rise.”
Photo Caption: Wilf Campus
Photo Credit: The Commentator