by Sophia Escudero and August Linton
Positive COVID-19 cases are once again on the rise in Humboldt County. According to the Humboldt County Public Health Department, 137 confirmed cases were reported between April 19 and April 26, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in Humboldt County up to 17,311.
A Humboldt Notification was sent out to the campus community in response.
“The University encourages the campus community to continue wearing face masks,” the email reads. “We want to remind everyone that N95 masks are recommended and effective for reducing transmission for the wearer.”
Tina deProspero is one of the COVID-19 testing staff currently working on campus. Despite the inherent risk of exposure that comes with her job, she says that she’s not that worried about being infected. She hasn’t tested positive since she started this job in August 2022
“I make sure I’m wearing my N95, and if somebody looks like they’re going to sneeze I’ll put my goggles down,” said deProspero.
According to deProspero, about half of the people come to the testing center are “weekly testers,” those who are mandated by the university to test weekly as a result of their vaccine exemption or other special circumstance. Visiting sports teams make up another large portion of the people they test. DeProspero says that she always sees an uptick in testing after breaks and after weekends.
While mask restrictions have been lifted for campus, the CDC recommends wearing a mask indoors regardless of vaccination status if you are sick, have been in close contact with someone who is sick, live with someone who is at high risk, or are in a county with a high COVID-19 Community Level. The current level for Humboldt County is low.
University testing services now require that students and staff being tested have insurance coverage. DeProspero said that in the case that a patient does not have insurance, the testing center gives them a rapid antigen test.
“That really bugged me though, I was like, we better be able to test everybody,” said deProspero.
Aside from wearing a mask, hand washing, avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces, and socially distancing are still strongly recommended.In an interview with the Washington Post, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci said that although rates of death and hospitalization have been decreasing, the pandemic is still active.
“Right now we’re at a low enough level that I believe that we’re transitioning into endemicity. We’re not in the full-blown explosive pandemic phase,” Fauci said. “That does not mean that the pandemic is over. A pandemic means widespread infection throughout the world.… In our country we’re transitioning into more of a controlled endemicity.”
That outcome is what deProspero is also anticipating.”I’m just hoping that it’ll work its way through,” she said.
Free N95 and surgical masks can be found at the College Creek Mailroom, the Jolly Giant Commons mailroom, the University Police Department, the Admissions Welcome Center, the Library, and the Gutswurrak Student Activities Center.