Positive COVID-19 cases on Virginia Tech’s Blacksburg campus are declining rapidly, a welcome sign for the university community as it aims for a strong spring semester finish in the midst of the pandemic.

Over the past 10 days, coronavirus case numbers have plateaued, reflecting a similar pattern at the same point during the fall 2020 semester when case counts dwindled, said Mike Mulhare, assistant vice president for emergency management at Virginia Tech.

Wide adherence to public health guidelines across the university community has been key to the declining trends, he said. 

Still, health officials encourage people to balance freedom with vigilance when it comes to protection against the coronavirus for themselves and others.

This graph shows positive COVID-19 cases at Virginia Tech during the fall 2020 semester  and the spring 2021 semester. Courtesy of Mike Mulhare
This graph shows positive COVID-19 cases at Virginia Tech during the fall 2020 semester and the spring 2021 semester. Courtesy of Mike Mulhare

According to Virginia Tech’s COVID dashboard, the seven-day average of percent positive tests ranged from 1.2  percent to 1.6 percent from March 22 to March 31. As of April 1, 35 students were living in campus isolation or quarantine residence halls.

“Virginia Tech students on the whole have stayed the course with sacrifice, humility, patience, and hope,” said Frank Shushok, vice president for student affairs. “The results show in case numbers, and more importantly, in our collective positive spirit. I couldn’t be more grateful.”

With May commencement approaching, Virginia Tech is planning for some in-person ceremonies. The university announced this week that it will hold 15 in-person commencement ceremonies outdoors at Lane Stadium from May 10-16, while adhering to public health guidelines.

There is other good news among the Hokie nation. Increasingly, members of the university community are receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. The New River Health District administered about 1,500 vaccine doses this past week to Virginia Tech employees, and more will be offered as supply allows.

Virginia Tech students are encouraged to register to receive a vaccine through the Virginia Department of Health.

Even so, despite positive strides, the campus community should continue to practice caution. People should continue to follow public health guidelines, such as wearing a mask in public, avoiding crowded spaces, and washing hands, said Noelle Bissell, health director of the New River Health District, while speaking with the media this week. COVID-19 still is spreading in parts of the district.

“Our vaccines are the light at the end of the tunnel, but we’re still in the tunnel,” Bissell said. “We encourage people not to let their guard down until we get closer to herd immunity [when a majority of a population is vaccinated].”

— Written by Jenny Kincaid Boone

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