Trinity Reports First Case of COVID-19 for Fall Semester; Fewer Cases than Rest of NESCAC

4 min read

Jack P. Carroll ’24

Managing Editor

Trinity’s COVID-19 Dashboard reported the College’s first case for the fall semester. One employee tested positive, according to the Dashboard’s active case count as of Sept. 17, however, zero students produced positive test results. 

These numbers mark a slight increase in cases since the first week of classes when Trinity identified zero cases of COVID-19 among students, employees, and affiliates. These results also come after the College announced that 98 percent of the campus community is now fully vaccinated against the virus. Since the week of Sept. 13, 333 negative cases were reported from a total of 337 administered tests; four of these test results were inconclusive. 

Trinity recently changed its surveillance testing policy for fully vaccinated students. These students are now required to obtain a medical evaluation and undergo a 10-day isolation if they receive a positive test result, according to a Sept. 14 email from Chief of Staff and Vice President for External Affairs Jason Rojas. Prior to this announcement, fully vaccinated students who tested positive for COVID-19 only had to wear a mask for ten days and receive a medical evaluation in the Health Center. 

“While compliance with mask-wearing in classrooms has been strong, there have been reports of lack of compliance in common areas such as the dining hall, the fitness center, and the library,” said Rojas in his address to students, faculty, and staff. “If we continue to receive reports of a lack of compliance, we will have to consider additional restrictions on the number of people who can be in spaces, reductions in allowable crowd size, and other accountability measures, including disciplinary actions.” 

Trinity’s active case count remains one of the lowest among its peer institutions in the New England Small College Athletics Conference (NESCAC). 

Connecticut College’s Covid-19 Dashboard reported 21 active cases (20 students, one employee) the week of Sept 13-19. Earlier this month, Conn. changed its Dashboard to Alert Level 3-Orange after more than 50 students tested positive the week of Sept. 8. Colby currently has four positive cases in isolation; the College has recorded 22 positive cases since Aug. 16. Additionally, Wesleyan identified eleven positive cases (ten students, one employee) earlier this week. 

NESCAC Institutions with comparably low case counts include Bowdoin and Williams which recently reported one and two cases respectively. Hamilton has zero new cases and one active case for the week of Sept. 18; Bates currently has one active case among employees. Further, Amherst has three active cases – one student and two staff.

The Tripod compiled COVID data from all the NESCAC schools to compare the COVID situation at each campus. The compiled data, depicting both the number of active COVID cases and total number of cases over the fall semester, is shown in the figure below. Tufts University was excluded from analysis due to its significantly larger size compared to the rest of the NESCAC. The case numbers are for students, faculty, and staff.

The data clearly show that Connecticut College has been impacted significantly more than all other NESCAC schools, with a total of 203 cumulative cases since Aug. 23. As of Sept. 20, Conn. Coll. also has the highest number of active cases in the conference with 21.

Bowdoin College has the second-highest cumulative case total with 45, though the Polar Bears only have one active case, indicating there was a large outbreak early in the semester that has since been resolved.

Wesleyan University has 38 cumulative cases since Aug. 25, the third-highest total in the conference. In addition, they currently have 11 active cases, indicating their cumulative total could grow even further in the coming weeks.

Amherst College and Colby College both have similar case totals. The former has a total of 23 cases, three of which are active as of Sept. 20, while the latter has a total of 22  cases, four of which are active. 

Bates College and Williams College both have a cumulative total of eight cases. Bates only has one active case, however, Williams has three active, indicating potential for further spread. 

Finally, Hamilton College has done extremely well in limiting COVID with only four total cases over the course of the semester so far. Further, they report zero active cases as of Sept. 20, indicating continued success.

There are some limitations of these data. Each school has its own unique testing program which could affect the number of positive results detected. In addition, schools have all implemented different public health precautions of varying strictness; the differing degrees of severity of these policies could have an effect on COVID transmission as well.  A more thorough and systematic approach is needed to warrant stronger conclusions.  

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