On Wednesday, Sept. 23, the Goshen College Pandemic Task Force confirmed three new cases of COVID-19 that day, bringing the total to five students currently in isolation.The most recent data dashboard shows two students and one employee in isolation while 13 students and one employee in quarantine.
Those numbers are set to change after learning that three of the students in quarantine tested positive.
The highest case count in a week for the college regarding COVID-19 prompted the Pandemic Task Force to send a reminder email last Friday, Sept. 18 to students and faculty to keep up with the “Big Four.”
As it stands, there are no plans for stricter guidelines surrounding prevention or to move classes fully online, President Rebecca Stoltzfus said.
“At the moment, [the plan] is to stick to the ‘Big Four,’” she said.
As a gauge for when to implement further precautionary measures, the college is comparing data on campus with the case rate of Elkhart County.
“From [that data], we can predict how many cases we would have on campus.” President Stoltzfus said. “We’re ahead of where we would expect to be.”
According to the New York Times COVID-19 case count, Elkhart County ranks third in the state for total cases with 6,509 and sixth for cases in the last seven days (297).
In addition to looking at county data, the college is also closely observing the capacity of safe places for quarantine and isolation.
Currently, there are five students isolated in Kenwood House and four students quarantining on campus, two of which are in the Miller Dormitory.
One of the five students currently in isolation is Ben Reichenbach, junior, who has been in Kenwood House since 1 p.m. last Friday.
Reichenbach moved into Kenwood after showing symptoms last Thursday and getting a positive rapid test on Friday morning.
He described his symptoms as intense allergies that felt exaggerated from normal. The symptoms come and go in cycles for Reichenbach, faring better in the morning and worse in the evenings.
Reflecting on the first five days alone, Reichenbach said the living situation was not easy and he compares isolation in Kenwood to, “squatting in a house that’s been robbed.”
With few furnishings, he relies on Netflix and YouTube to get him through the day after classes and homework are finished.
Between classes, study groups, choir and lab, all on Zoom, Reichenbach is able to stay busy throughout most days, but says it’s difficult to remain productive.
“It’s not a very motivating atmosphere,” he said. “It’s tough to keep moving on things I need to get done.”
Reichenbach said the little contact via email he receives from GC isn’t the most helpful, but they have provided his basic needs, dropping water and food off on the front porch every day.
Still, Reichenbach understands how quickly symptoms can go downhill with COVID-19 and would appreciate more frequent contact about general health and well-being.
Reichenbach was the only student in Kenwood House until Wednesday, Sept. 23.
This could change as the three students in quarantine who tested positive are part of the first “cluster of cases,” according to President Stoltzfus.
A “cluster of cases” as defined by the World Health Organization, is more than one case “clustered in time, geographic location and/or by common exposures.”
Still, President Stoltzfus believes the current plan is working as it should.
Through prompt reporting from students who are positive, thorough contact tracing, and good cooperation, there are no more contacts to trace and all cases are contained.
“We conclude that our strategies are good, we just need to stay vigilant about them,” she said.