Virus Action Team update: Number of COVID-19 cases within GVSU community trending down; Staying in Place order takes effect

Sign on a door that says COVID-19 testing.
Image Credit: Kendra Stanley-Mills

The number of positive COVID-19 cases within the Grand Valley community has trended down for the last couple of days after leveling off last week. In spite of this recent trend, the overall positive numbers for Grand Valley since the opening of the Fall semester have been concerning to both university community members and public health officials. 

The Ottawa County Department of Public Health (OCDPH) issued a "Staying in Place" order with the full cooperation of GVSU administrators and members of the Virus Action Team. It extends from September 17 through October 1. The shared goal is to stop the spread of COVID-19 in the GVSU community. 

Greg Sanial, vice president for Finance and Administration and interim director of the GVSU Virus Action Team, said while the prevalence of the highly contagious virus is mostly in off-campus housing, it's critical for everyone to do their part.

"The numbers that come from rigorous testing while repopulating our community are not surprising," said Sanial. "Saying that, we fully recognize that each number, each positive test, represents a member of our community who may be ill, scared or concerned. We share that concern, while diligently working through our robust testing and tracing plans."

For each positive case, county health officials, with university support, will conduct contact tracing to notify all those potentially connected to infected individuals. This has uncovered asymptomatic people who went first to quarantine, got tested, and if positive, went into isolation. 

Sanial said the testing plan is catching asymptomatic cases earlier and helping to stop the spread of the virus, and although cases initially grew rapidly, the past week of data shows decreasing numbers.

He said the OCDPH order outlined the difficulty the department is having getting students to share their close contacts and those potentially exposed to the virus.

"Please cooperate with contact tracing when you test positive," said Sanial. "This is not to 'catch' students who may have been at a gathering; it is only to stop the spread. Contact tracing helps identify those who may have contracted the virus, so they can take appropriate action."

Sanial stressed the importance of participating in random testing if selected. He said the data is needed to continue to keep in-person experiences as an option for the GVSU community.

In addition, he said completing the daily self-assessment will help combat the pandemic and will trigger supports from the university and Spectrum Health if needed. 

For questions or concerns, call The Lakers Together call center at (616) 331-INFO (4636). It operates beginning at 8 a.m. every day. Personal health concerns should go to the GVSU/Spectrum 24-hour call center at (833) 734-0020. Email virusactionteam@gvsu.edu with questions or constructive comments.

More information can be found at www.gvsu.edu/lakerstogether.