Fort Lewis College has seen a slight increase in the rate of new COVID-19 cases after a lull during the first month of the semester.
In the last two weeks, 14 people tested positive for the disease caused by the coronavirus. That’s more cases in less time than the college has seen since its first week of testing at the end of August. FLC spokeswoman Lauren Savage said the college’s robust disease management structure is keeping control of viral spread.
“We’ve just seen not only the people that have tested positive, but our teams respond effectively to reduce spread,” Savage said.
In late August, the college reported about 17 positive COVID-19 cases, all of which turned up during move-in week when students were required to be tested. In mid-September, FLC had no active cases, and as of Oct. 1, a total of 19 people had tested positive for the disease.
On Friday, the college’s testing data showed a total of 33 positive cases, an increase of 14 since Oct. 2, and five active positives. An active positive means someone who is currently in isolation, having tested positive within the last 10 days, Savage said.
The jump in cases occurred because the virus has spread within households, she said.
College management is constantly collaborating with San Juan Basin Public Health, which supports FLC’s response plan, Savage said.
“Every day, we’re waiting for new information and results from our testing to see, quantitatively, how we’re doing, what that means for disease spread on campus and if we can continue with in-person instruction,” she said.
Students and employees on campus are asked to fill out a daily symptom tracker via an app that can be downloaded on the college’s website.
FLC offers free testing on campus every week and has conducted about 4,900 tests since August. Results come back within 48 to 72 hours, and at most, the college has had 10 active positive cases at one time, Savage said.
Like the Durango community, FLC staff members and students limit their outside contacts, or quarantine if they are informed of a positive exposure and while they wait for test results.
If they test positive themselves, they go into isolation for 10 days. The college also does contact tracing with SJBPH and its own health center so close contacts know to quarantine and get tested.
“What we’re seeing shows us that employees and students continue to do their best with their virus mitigation,” Savage said. “So far, we just have these daily victories where we just get to continue on. There’s a good sense of community commitment to making it to the end of the semester (with in-person instruction).”