JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Some of Mississippi’s cases are being reported on the state’s college campuses now that students have returned for the fall semester.
Let’s start by clarifying some terms that a lot of folks have been using interchangeably. Quarantine is for individuals who have been exposed to COVID-19. Isolation is for those with a confirmed case of the virus.
As of September 1, Ole Miss has 290 active COVID-19 cases. 280 of those are among students. There are designated on-campus isolation and quarantine spaces. 29 students are in on-campus isolation and 57 of them in designated quarantine space.
Notice that means 251 of those who’ve tested positive are isolating off campus. That same option is given to those quarantining.
“We advise our students to consult with their families about their options,” explained Jim Zook, University of Mississippi Chief Marketing and Communications Officer.
“That’s not an option for some, I know people who live in New York and they can’t go home, you know,” pointed out student Anne Lea who says she would go home if required to isolate or quarantine.
But the on campus tally doesn’t account for some who are quarantined temporarily.
“The guidance we’ve received from MSDH is this...when three cases emerge within a group, such as a floor in a residence hall, then that is defined as an outbreak,” described Zook. “And when an outbreak occurs then everybody within the group needs to quarantine in place temporarily while we can conduct contact tracing.”
The university’s Covid-19 dashboard also gives insight on how much space they have left on campus for isolation and quarantine needs. They point out that it will constantly change as students roll off the list and others on. But I asked what the contingency plans are.
“We are looking at a wide range of options,” noted Zook. “So, we are talking with local hotels. We have been doing that for a while. We’re talking with local apartment owners about space that might be available. And that’s one of the key measures that we’re looking at to assess our ability to respond.”
Any changes past that? Well, they’re looking at several factors.
“There’s not any one indicator that we may need to take additional steps.”