URI asks community to stay vigilant as COVID-19 cases increase

Community members asked to recommit to wearing masks, limiting exposure to others.

We continue to see a sustained rise in the number of positive COVID-19 cases within the URI community. Last week, we hit another record with 132 positive cases and our positivity rate increased to just over 2%. We are also starting to be concerned with the capacity to provide adequate isolation and quarantine space if the numbers continue to increase.

If the trend continues, we would be forced to make difficult decisions and impose additional restrictions if we do not take steps now to decrease the transmission of the virus in our community. Now is the time to recommit and take the necessary steps to decrease transmission of the virus in our community.

We have learned that it only takes a little carelessness with mask-wearing and gatherings to lead to widespread transmission. As we look at other universities around the country, outbreaks have repeatedly been linked to instances of letting down one’s guard, such as joining a party or crowd, and not masking when in the company of those outside your household. Students who violate the health and safety protocols face a number of different sanctions depending on the severity of the violations, including suspensions.

Updated mask guidance

Last week, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its guidance regarding masks. This guidance focuses on type, fit, and layers of mask(s), the settings in which mask-wearing is crucial, and steps we need to take to avoid encountering air with respiratory droplets. However, underlying this new guidance is an existing message — the importance of wearing a mask correctly, consistently, and in any situation other than when you are alone in your room or with people you live with.

URI’s health and safety protocols

We can’t overemphasize the importance of individual and collective responsibility in adhering to URI’s COVID-19 health and safety guidelines. We are all in this together for the long haul. And while COVID-19 vaccines are promising, it will take time to vaccinate the number of people needed to achieve herd immunity. Until then, adhering to these COVID-19 guidelines, including testing, screening, social distancing, masking, and group size is vital. They are the best tools we have for reducing the spread of the coronavirus, and they are effective.

Letting down our guard

We know that members of our community are tired and we understand how easy it is to let our guard down when it comes to COVID-19 precautions. But our state and country are seeing declining rates of infection, and for many months, the URI community has shown great resolve and leadership in helping to fight the spread of the virus. We urge you to stay in the fight, to keep us going this semester and to help ensure the health and safety of our great community.

We ask all members of the URI community to increase your efforts to strictly adhere to the health and safety guidelines, including participation in routine testing (required for students every other week unless you are exempt), masking, social distancing, and continuing to limit exposure. Our thanks to the entire URI community for your efforts to help keep each other safe.