Dear Members of the Carnegie Mellon University Community:
Welcome back from what I hope was a relaxing and recharging holiday weekend. You may be aware that last week we had another cluster of positive cases amongst our CMU community. Once again, this occurred in small gatherings where people are more prone to let their guard down because they feel safer in these familiar environments. As we approach the home stretch of this semester, I ask for your renewed vigilance in practicing all of the recommended mitigation protocols wherever you may be.
As I shared in a recent message, cases have been rising both nationwide and in Pennsylvania. Unfortunately, this trend continues: as of last Thursday, November 26, the state saw a seven-day increase of 41,424 cases; the previous seven-day increase was 37,380. Additionally, the statewide positivity rate rose to 11.7% from 11.1% the previous week. Every county in the state, including Allegheny County, has a positivity rate above 5%, which is a continued reminder to exercise caution.
During this time of surging caseloads across the country, if at all possible, it is best to avoid travel. However, should you choose to do so, the most effective way to minimize the risk of transmitting the virus to your family, friends and community is to avoid high-risk behaviors, abide by all mitigation protocols, and to quarantine for 14 days prior to and following travel. At CMU, we are requiring a quarantine after returning from any travel out-of-state, or from high-risk travel within Pennsylvania prior to coming to campus.
If you are considering travel, please review the commonwealth guidance, and take note that unlike its guidance, CMU will not accept a negative test result as an alternative to the 14-day quarantine upon return. A test merely represents a moment in time and there could potentially be lag time between when someone becomes infectious and when there is enough virus in their body to accurately register on a test.
We recognize that for many of our students, travel home for the coming winter break will be necessary. To support students in developing their travel plans, we will be offering opportunities for students to schedule pre-winter break asymptomatic COVID-19 testing. Please keep an eye out for communications later today containing details on how to sign up for testing appointments.
Let me conclude by thanking you once again for your commitment to “A Tartan’s Responsibility,” and for your perseverance in helping reduce the spread of COVID-19 on our campus throughout this semester. As we close out the year, please keep your loved ones and our fellow Tartans at the top of your mind. Remembering those we cherish will sustain us as we continue to practice physical distancing, wash our hands and wear facial coverings for the collective benefit of our shared communities.
All the best,
Chief of Staff and Vice President for Strategic Initiatives