Pandemic’s unforeseeable future: Student Health Services sees fewer COVID-19 cases on campus

According to Student Health Services (SHS) at Coastal Carolina University, there is a decline in positive COVID-19 results among students, faculty and staff.

Mike Cruise, the manager of quality improvement and infectious disease containment, said the COVID-19 numbers are lower than in previous years, although their data is significantly less accurate than last year.

This previous spring semester, SHS used contact tracing to track the number of positive cases on campus, as well to lessen the spread of the virus. Without this protocol, members of the CCU community are no longer required to submit test results directly to the University. As a result, the only available data the University has is coming directly from SHS.

The free testing site on campus, previously located in Lib Jackson Student Union, is no longer offered. Cruise said the majority of the positive cases and data surrounding how many tests were taken last semester came from this site in particular.

Mike Cruise said there will always be an initial climb in cases at the beginning of the semester, as students get settled and enter new, communal living spaces.

“So far, we have gone at least three to four weeks this semester without any returning positive results,” he said, “and we see the campus peaks and valleys follow community peaks and valleys.”

According to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) as of Oct. 22, 2022, the average number of COVID cases per week is down 18.6% from the previous four-week average. The number of completed vaccinations in South Carolina has increased by 4.6% from the previous four-week average.

Student Health Services recently offered a vaccination clinic for both the flu and COVID-19 on Oct. 26th. Medical Records Manager at SHS Ann Halsey said the clinic was utilized mainly by employees.

“The booster clinic numbers were better than we expected,” Halsey said.

Halsey’s advice to students, faculty and staff regarding taking precautions is to maintain healthy habits and prioritize your health. She said all the usual practices such as good sleep, healthy eating habits, exercise, and frequently washing hands are all key factors.

“One positive thing to come out of all of this has been the increase in awareness and accountability in terms of prioritizing our health,” she said.

Both Mike Cruise and Ann Halsey urge students to continue taking precautions, including cleaning high-touch surfaces in communal living spaces and avoid sharing things including cups and utensils. Those experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or the flu are encouraged to make an appointment with Student Health Services by calling 843-349-6543.