As new confirmed cases of COVID-19 spike in Michigan, Hillsdale College reported two active cases on Wednesday morning. Another 43 students are in contact isolation and seven await test results. Twenty-eight cases of COVID-19 have been resolved this year, according to a faculty and staff newsletter.
Director of Health and Wellness Brock Lutz said there have been no apparent outbreaks recently.
“There wasn’t really a spike after fall break,” Lutz said. “I think parent’s weekend was a little bit more difficult to determine because we did see a bit of an increase last week after parent’s weekend, but I even hesitate to point the finger at parent’s weekend for causation. Right now, I certainly don’t know of anyone who tested positive who then said, ‘Oh, well yeah my mom tested positive when she got home.’”
Other schools, like the University of Michigan, have seen spikes in COVID-19 cases this month. While Hillsdale’s case numbers have been on a slow incline since the end of September, Lutz said Hillsdale’s positive case rate isn’t growing at a rapid rate.
Additionally, Lutz said the college’s cases count for only a small percentage of total cases in Hillsdale County.
“University of Michigan cases count for about 60% of all positive cases in Washtenaw County,” Lutz said. “Our cases at the college count for about 6% of our county’s positive cases. So, I think that means we’re doing well. I don’t think that means we should let up, I think that means we should keep doing what we’re doing.”
Senior Carson Nickel contracted COVID-19 after close contact with one of his fraternity brothers. Nickel said his symptoms were only noticeable for a few days.
“I had a tiny bit of a sore throat for two days and then I had really bad body aches and a little bit of a fever,” Nickel said. “The next day, and then right after that day, all my symptoms pretty much went away except for a stuffy nose, and then I lost my sense of smell and taste somewhere along the way and didn’t get it back for two weeks.”
Although Nickel recovered a couple of weeks ago, he said he’s been taking extra precautions to protect himself.
“I’ve been trying to wear a mask as much as I can,” Nickel said. “Technically, according to guidelines, you only have to be quarantined if you had close contact without a mask on. So I’ve been trying to get around it by wearing a mask because of course I’m concerned about going back into quarantine.”
Lutz said the college’s main priorities have been safety, legality, and in-person classes, “in that order.”
College President Larry Arnn has repeatedly stressed the importance of in-person classes, saying in August that “we should be cautious about anything that spreads the coronavirus, but we should not forget the joy of being together.”
Lutz said so far, the college has maintained those priorities, and has every intention to keep doing so.
“I think we’ve been able to do all those things fairly well,” Lutz said. “People have been cooperative, and people keep saying, ‘we’ll do whatever we need to do as long as we can stay in person.’ People have been very honorable.”