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As Thanksgiving approaches, WMU is urging students to take extra precautions before celebrating with family this year, according to an email from WMU COVID-19 Information to the WMU community.

“We are now just a little less than 14 days before Thanksgiving,” the email reads. “As we all think about how to gather with those we love, now is the time to take action to do that safely. This is especially important given that our trends are headed in the wrong direction. We are seeing a concerning rise of COVID-19 cases that are burdening health care systems across Michigan and right here in Kalamazoo County. Cases here at Western began to rise right after Halloween. We must work to flatten the curve.”

The university is also urging students to only leave their homes for essential reasons.

“Your unremitting dedication to all the related coronavirus safety practices is crucial,” the email reads. “We join Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services in calling for enhanced social distancing. Limit the places you go when you leave home to just the essentials—such as class, work, grocery runs and health care services.”

There are simple steps you can take to slow the spread of the coronavirus and get COVID cases down. These include:

  • Taking advantage of rapid-result testing available through Sindecuse Health Center. On Nov. 18 and 19, the health center is offering drive-thru testing by appointment. Schedule a test by calling (269) 387-3287.

  • Rethink “Friendsgiving” plans. If you are exposed today or later, you can be asymptomatic and take coronavirus home. 

  • Limit your movement outside your home to only what is essential.

The email also mentioned that the university has not seen a rise in transmissions occurring as a result of activities in classrooms or work settings, but as a result of social gatherings.

Previously, close contact lists of COVID-19-positive students had typically been less than 10, according to the email. But the university is now seeing close contact lists of around 25 people or more, usually a list of others who were at a party. 

“So, if you had plans to attend or host a party this weekend, think two weeks into the future and cancel those plans,” the email reads. “The University's Student Code of Conduct office has been busy investigating and issuing hundreds of violations for disregarding safety rules.”

Compared to the last seven-day period reported, COVID-19 cases have gone up to 141 new cases versus 109 new cases in the last report, according to the email. 12.9% of tested individuals have tested positive for the virus compared to 11.4%.

“We must return to the things we know how to do to curb the spread of this virus,” the email reads. “Individual decisions are the most powerful tools we have at our disposal. It’s within our power to flatten the curve. We may be getting tired of the coronavirus, but the virus has not nearly tired of us.”

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