Dear Whitman community,

I hope you are all settled back into campus life following Spring Break and are ready for a short update on COVID-19 cases at Whitman. The campus community had five positive cases each of the past two weeks (the second week of Spring Break and the first week back). Given the time spent away from Whitman, this is not surprising, and thankfully these cases have all been mild. These numbers are documented in more detail on our COVID-19 Dashboard.

It is worth pointing out that many of these 10 cases were in people who were known to be close contacts to others confirmed to have COVID-19. This highlights the importance of quickly identifying and isolating people with positive cases as well as carrying out contact tracing, practices that we continue to implement at Whitman. We strongly encourage anyone with symptoms of COVID-19 or a known exposure to be diligent in testing at the appropriate times (24 hours after symptom onset or 5 to 7 days after exposure).

Particularly as the BA.2 subvariant spreads (now constituting over 60% of COVID-19 cases in Washington state) caution remains necessary. This subvariant is even more transmissible than the original Omicron variant, but thankfully the impact to the health care system remains modest at this point, and we do not currently plan any modifications to our campus protocols. We hope that the continued diligence taken by the Whitman community will keep this subvariant at bay and that we will soon return to our pre-Spring Break trend of 0 new cases.

There are many events to look forward to in the coming weeks, including the Whitman Undergraduate Conference, the Long Tent programming and, of course, Commencement. Let’s continue to take the steps necessary to protect ourselves and each other from COVID-19 so that we can enjoy these final weeks of the semester.

Best,
Peter

Peter Harvey
Chair, Coronavirus Task Force