Omicron bumps up Covid numbers on campus

Olivia Allery, news editor

With the start of the new semester, the entire world is now facing a surge of the Omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus, and the Twin Cities are no different. Hennepin and Ramsey counties have seen a substantial increase in cases over the first two weeks of January. With the numbers sitting at 1,530.6 and 1,461.33 per 100,000 people for Hennepin and Ramsey counties. This brings the positivity rate to 26.93%, which is in the sustained/high transmission level. 

While over 90% of the entire Augsburg population has been vaccinated, there have also been an increasing number of cases on campus as well. Since being back on campus, the COVID-19 transmission level has risen to a moderate risk level, which is lower compared to that of Hennepin county. However, Augsburg might be bumped to a moderate substantial risk level as more positive cases are being confirmed. As of Jan. 15, 2022 there have been 11 employees and 28 on-campus students who have tested positive. The number of Covid isolation beds on campus has reached 16% capacity, which is a 12% increase from the first week of January.

This surge has caused Augsburg to update some of the COVID-19 policies to adapt to the rising numbers in this new semester. One of these policies is an updated mask policy. The Augsburg indoor mask policy is still in effect, however KN95 and N95 masks are encouraged to be worn in place of cloth or surgical masks to ensure better protection from the virus. Since cloth and surgical masks alone would not be sufficient enough against the Omicron variant, instead students and staff can double mask with a surgical and a multi-layered cloth mask if KN95s or N95 masks are not readily available. “My focus is on the health and safety of the Augsburg community as the semester begins,” said Augsburg Dean of Students Sarah Griesse in a quote to the Echo. 

The isolation and quarantine measures have also slightly changed as well depending on a person’s vaccination status. All positive tests still must be reported to Augsburg and necessary measures will be taken with quarantine and isolation. If you are exposed to COVID-19 and are not “up to date” with vaccination, meaning you have been vaccinated long enough to get a booster or no vaccination at all, will be required to quarantine when exposed. For those who are fully vaccinated and “up to date,” potential exposure to COVID-19 does not require quarantining. However, within 5-7 days of your exposure you should test yourself. Also a general rule that has not changed, if you have any symptoms of COVID-19, get tested as soon as possible.