University of Virginia announces new COVID safety protocols amidst rising cases

University of Virginia announces new COVID safety protocols amidst rising cases
A sign at the University of Virginia promotes social distancing. (Source: WVIR)

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - The University of Virginia is adopting new protocols designed to limit the spread of the coronavirus on grounds.

The measures, which were announced on social media by the university in a video of President Jim Ryan.

“Staying one step ahead of this virus will not be easy. Instead, it will require everyone doing their part, not just some of the time, or even most of the time, but all the time,” said Ryan.

The new guidelines include a reduction in the maximum size of gatherings to five people and stronger enforcement of limitations on travel and visitors. Masks must also be worn at all times, except when at home or exercising outdoors. The new guidelines take effect Wednesday, September 23. at 9 a.m.

“If this new limit is not respected, we may have to consider additional restrictions including curfews,” said Ryan.

The move comes as the university has seen an uptick in COVID cases. Late Monday, NBC29 learned UVA is testing residents of another residence hall, Hancock dormitory.

“We’ve become more concerned about the spread of COVID-19 within the UVA community. Some of this has been driven by a rise in the number of positive cases in our community, but we’ve also gotten reports of a few large student gatherings both on and off grounds,” Ryan said.

As of Monday, the university had a seven-day moving average of just over 27 positive cases each day, roughly two times the average from two weeks ago.

According to the UVA COVID Tracker, the university has 224 active cases of COVID-19 among students, faculty, staff, and contract employees. The online data portal also shares that a COVID test takes an average of 28 hours to complete. Currently, 26 percent of quarantine rooms and 7 percent of isolation rooms are occupied

In-person classes will continue and testing effort will increase, including eventually introducing saliva test. President Ryan is staying confident in students to keep the semester going.

“Some people said we couldn’t do it. Some people still have their doubts. But while getting to Thanksgiving is going to be hard, all of you have shown over the last 6 months that you can do hard things,” Ryan said.

The new guidelines will stay in effect for at least two weeks.

President Jim Ryan addressed the University of Virginia community, outlining three new restrictions that will be in place for at least the next two weeks.

Posted by University of Virginia on Tuesday, September 22, 2020

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