SCSU releases weekly data; Varsity athletics suspended as COVID-19 numbers “exploded”

SCSU sees an increase in the number of positive cases. Photo credit: cdc.gov

Editor’s Note: The University Chronicle has received emails from a source within SCSU athletics. Their name has been omitted to ensure privacy and prevent repercussion.

Editor’s note: Due to site maintenance, this article was republished on Oct. 7, 2020. This article was originally published on Sept. 25, 2020.

St. Cloud State University released their COVID-19 numbers for the third week after they started reporting on Sept. 11, 2020.

For the week of Sept. 16 through 22, they had 33 reported student cases, zero reported employee cases, and 11 students in on-campus quarantine and isolation.

Reported cases are defined on their dashboard as cases with a positive COVID-19 test result, which is reported to the college or university by public health officials or by the individual student or employee.

This is up from the previous week of Sept. 9 through 15, which had seven reported student cases, zero reported employee cases, and zero students in on-campus quarantine and isolation. Those numbers have continued to rise as SCSU attempts to contact trace and mitigate the spread of the virus in the Husky community.

Over the past week those numbers have continued to rise and the University Chronicle has received copies of emails that were sent from SCSU’s athletic staff to athletes. Those emails state there is a widespread cluster of cases in athletics across about 50 percent of the teams.

After athletics held a meeting on Sept. 22, Heather Weems, SCSU’s Athletics Director, sent out an email that summarized the context of the meeting and was subsequently sent out to athletes.

“The transmission rate of COVID-19 within our athletics population has exploded over the past week. …  As a campus, we are approaching an infection rate at which we cannot contain, nor trace the spread fast enough,” states the email on the context of the meeting. “We started with awareness of one positive test on Sept. 16, and as of Sept. 22, we are aware of 22 confirmed positives with many other symptomatic student athletes across about 50% of our teams.”

The University Chronicle reached out to Heather Weems for a statement and as of the publishing of this article, no response has been received.

The last day of recorded reporting for the previous week was on Sept. 15 with the last day of recording for this week being Sept. 22.

On the evening of Sept. 22, SCSU held a Student Town Hall on Zoom where multiple questions on the state of athletics were not addressed.

Editor’s note: Those questions that were displayed in chat regarding athletics were from Bethanie Barrios and anonymous attendees. Barrios is the former Editor-in-Chief of the University Chronicle and was attending the Town Hall as a student of the University and not as a member of the press.

With the contact tracing that athletics is implementing, they have found that most of the transmission of the virus among student athletes has occurred off campus, between close and intimate friends/partners, and within the residence halls. The email goes on to state that as the “medical professionals” have contact traced, they have come to find out that there are student athletes who are not reporting symptoms immediately, they are withholding information about who they have been in contact with, along with getting independently tested before reporting symptoms to SCSU in a desire to remain practicing.

“The University is working diligently to identify cases, mitigate risk, and control the spread of COVID-19,” Kathryn Kloby, the Associate Vice President for Strategic Communications, said. “The focus on [the] Protect the Pack [campaign] is to identify safety strategies, raise awareness, and call for vigilance. … Central to this campaign is the mindset that this is a community effort and that we are all in this together.”

The athletics email goes on to state that a single positive test on any team will result in the entire team being quarantined until it can be confirmed there was no cross transmission and asks student athletes to make responsible choices outside of practice.

Athletics is under an activity suspension that runs through the end of the day on Sept. 25, with activities being evaluated on a week-to-week and team-by-team basis.

“If students are concerned about the safety of themselves [and/or] others, as it relates to COVID-19, we urge them to reach out to Student Life and Development at sld@stcloudstate.edu,” said Kloby.

MINNSTATE has reported 888 student cases and 65 employee cases system-wide since the start of the fall semester.

SCSU remains at a green safety level with updates made on Fridays with data from the previous Wednesday through Tuesday.

This article was updated on Sept. 22, 2020, at 2:30 p.m. with the safety level color after SCSU updated their dashboard.

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Tim Speier

Tim is a junior at St. Cloud State and is a marketing major. He enjoys ice fishing, hanging out with his wife and dogs, and spending all day barbecuing. "In life, you should strive to be useful rather than being important. Anyone can be important."

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