Western Michigan University reports 66 new coronavirus cases

KALAMAZOO, MI — Western Michigan University’s Sindecuse Health Center reported 66 new coronavirus cases to its COVID-19 Dashboard Friday, Oct. 2.

The cases were found from Sept. 28-30, as Sindecuse health center has been reporting data Tuesday and Friday evenings each week. Sindecuse reported 50 positive cases on Tuesday, Sept. 29., stemming from the results of WMU community members that were tested on Sept. 24-25.

The new coronavirus data reported Friday brings WMU’s total to 504 since students returned in mid-August.

Montgomery told WMU community members in an email on Sept. 21 that the increase in cases was expected as a result of the return to campus as well as Labor Day weekend.

“The majority of the positive cases seem to be stemming from off-campus living situations and off-campus social gatherings,” Montgomery said in the email.

While the number of new cases has trended down in recent weeks, so has the number of tests being administered, right after the measure saw a small increase earlier in the month of September.

As of Sept. 30, the percentage of tested individuals testing positive is 15.9% on a 7-day average, below the 20% mark the measure hovered near throughout September.

The 7-day average number of tests conducted at WMU fell drastically in early September following the university’s five-day testing event at the Student Recreation Center on its main campus, which ran from Aug. 27 through Aug. 31. At that event, 1,128 people were tested.

Days after the event, Sindecuse was averaging 235 tests per week. That figure has not risen above 192.8 since, and the 7-day average of tests conducted has stayed under 150 tests for a large part of September. On average, there were 148 individuals tested daily in the 7-day period ending on Sept. 30.

Sindecuse Health Center COVID-19 Dashboard

A chart of the number of individuals tested from the Sindecuse Health Center COVID-19 Dashboard.

Out of the 2,965 people tested in the month of September, 298 were administered the day after the testing event on Sept. 1 and 1,326 were given from Sept. 21-30. That equates to about 12% of the 23,363 students enrolled at WMU.

On Monday, Sept. 21, the university announced that Sindecuse Health Center has expanded its testing capabilities.

“Sindecuse had a handful of days where staff determined that capacity was not sufficient,” Montgomery said in the email. “Before we could call on Sindecuse to address the matter, the staff was already working on a solution.”

Montgomery said that since the issue has been identified, Sindecuse has adopted policies and practices to expedite appointments and has “doubled” the center’s daily testing volume.

The university has encouraged students living on-campus to seek testing, but students are not required to do so. Currently, students are required to take a daily online survey, which grants them access to enter buildings on campus.

At Grand Valley State University — where students were recently ordered to stay in their on- or off-campus residence for two weeks because of a surge in the number of coronavirus cases — students will now be incentivized with $200 in tuition funds to take a coronavirus health screening test every day for the remainder of the fall semester, GVSU said in a Facebook post.

WMU students and community members seeking testing at Sindecuse can call the health center to set up an appointment at 269-387-3287, or set up an appointment through the Sindecuse online patient portal.

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