Tulane University Finds Likely Omicron Cases Amid Covid Outbreak

Topline

Tulane University announced Friday it would reinstate a mask mandate for all campus buildings as it deals with its biggest Covid outbreak yet during the fall semester, which it said includes “probable” Omicron cases.

Key Facts

On Monday, the university said a student living off campus had tested positive for omicron, with Friday’s update suggesting there are now multiple omicron cases at the New Orleans-based university.

At least 74 students and staff have tested positive for Covid-19 in the past three days.

Tulane spokesman Michael Strecker said in a statement to Forbes that the university is “closely monitoring the number of Omicron cases,” though the university did not share how many cases are known.

The university started randomly testing 2,500 campus community members per day this week and plans to continue doing so through December 17.

Crucial Quote

“Starting today, everyone, regardless of vaccine status, must wear masks inside campus buildings,” the university tweeted.

Key Background

Louisiana is one of at least 19 U.S. states where the omicron variant has been detected, and it appears to be an emerging hot spot. Louisiana Department of Health officials said Thursday the state’s found 37 either probable or confirmed omicron cases—30 of which are in the New Orleans area. Health officials around the U.S. are urging caution due to the omicron variant, which was first discovered in South Africa on November 24, with early studies finding it may be more transmissible than earlier coronavirus strains. Those who haven’t had a Covid shot are being urged to get vaccinated, while the vaccinated are being asked to get a booster. Health experts are also worried the winter could lead to increased transmission, as people spend more time indoors to escape the cold weather. College campuses were major hotbeds of coronavirus transmission last year, but case rates have significantly decreased this fall after a summer surge due to wider vaccination.

Surprising Fact

While many universities are going through finals periods and wrapping up the semester, regular classes at Tulane will continue through December 21. The university pushed back the end of classes by more than a week due to disruptions caused by Hurricane Ida.

Further Reading

Louisiana Department of Health reports 20 additional omicron cases across state (WDSU-TV)

Americans Are Concerned About Omicron—But Won’t Change Their Plans For It, Poll Finds (Forbes)

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Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/nicholasreimann/2021/12/10/tulane-university-finds-likely-omicron-cases-amid-covid-outbreak/