Worcester’s Assumption University to enter week lockdown amid coronavirus spike

Assumption University will be locked down for a week amid an increase of coronavirus cases on campus.

chart, diagram: m102720_CoronavirusCases

© Provided by Boston Herald

With more than 20% of residential students in isolation or quarantine, the university and the city of Worcester decided that the campus will enter a “shelter-in-place” on Friday.


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“Due to the increase of positive COVID-19 cases and number of students in quarantine and isolation, the Worcester Department of Public Health contacted the University to assess the public health situation on campus,” Assumption President Francesco Cesareo wrote to the campus community. “The city and University mutually agreed that a lock-down of campus effective 8 a.m. tomorrow, Friday, October 30 until Friday, November 6, with students sheltering in place, is necessary to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 on and off campus.

“The shelter-in-place status will significantly decrease interactions amongst members of the community and the potential spread of the virus,” he added.

Most campus offices will operate remotely, except those that directly serve students. Classes will continue remotely.

All commuter students will be remote for the remainder of the semester.

As of Wednesday, 25 students are isolated on campus, and 93 are in quarantine.

During the shelter-in-place, students may not leave their residence hall, floor or apartment — except for picking up meals, medical emergencies and COVID-19 testing.

If students return home, they are not allowed to return to campus until January.

“At the end of the timeframe of the shelter-in-place, we will reassess the situation with the Worcester Department of Public Health,” the university president wrote.

He later added, “I realize the inconvenience that the shelter-in-place will cause students, faculty and staff, however this mutual decision by the Worcester Department of Public Health and the University is a necessary step to promote the health and safety of the campus and Worcester communities.”

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There’s a Middle Ground in the Lockdown Debate

(Bloomberg Opinion) — As the coronavirus pandemic continues its sweep through the U.S., India and Brazil, the dreaded second wave is now gathering strength in nations that had once contained the virus. Numbers are rocketing upward, especially in Europe, even as winter approaches, which will bring the added burden of seasonal illnesses such as influenza. Attempting to tamp things down, and to avoid overwhelming their health services, authorities in France, Germany and the U.K. are now considering stronger social distancing measures, with others — including in Ireland and Israel — ordering short, strict “circuit breaker” lockdowns.

a stack of flyers on a table: Antiseptic wipes, hand sanitizer, protective masks and gloves at a JLL office in Menlo Park, California, U.S., on Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020. Constraints such as social distancing and masks mean the precise nature of the future office working environment remains an open question even as some signs of normality return with some workers returning to their desks.

© Photographer: Bloomberg/Bloomberg
Antiseptic wipes, hand sanitizer, protective masks and gloves at a JLL office in Menlo Park, California, U.S., on Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020. Constraints such as social distancing and masks mean the precise nature of the future office working environment remains an open question even as some signs of normality return with some workers returning to their desks.

Yet if anything is as ineradicable as the coronavirus, it’s the fervid conviction of many that strict lockdowns actually bring worse consequences than Covid-19 itself. The lockdown skeptics — which include some scientists — argue that lockdowns entail massive economic damage as well as disruption to social communities and an increase in inequality. We’d be better off, they claim, if we instead aimed for herd immunity by letting the virus infect the young and healthy while protecting the vulnerable.


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Some have portrayed the debate as reflecting a growing scientific divide, although this is far from the case. Almost all public health authorities come down against the herd immunity idea. Unfortunately, too much of the debate has been marred by confusion over why and when epidemiologists think lockdowns can play a beneficial role, and why the skeptics’ vision falls short.

It’s fair to say that both sides of the debate have at times misrepresented their opponents. Some lockdown skeptics make it seem as if proponents favor permanent lockdown until a vaccine comes along, whereas most see lockdowns as a drastic tool to be used over short periods of time — an emergency step, like dropping the control rods into a nuclear reactor about to melt down. Meanwhile, skeptics are criticized for wanting to just “let things rip,” too bad about the old and susceptible — yet most actually emphasize trying to protect the vulnerable. 

Get past the politics, and some numbers help bring one thing into focus: why, in the absence of a coronavirus vaccine, lockdowns may be essential. Epidemics grow fast, and there’s an inherent asymmetry between the ups and downs of the numbers: Without excellent testing and tracing, it takes a very strict lockdown to get numbers falling, whereas achieving explosive growth in cases is very easy.

Take the U.K., for example. Its cases have risen steadily since mid-August, after earlier restrictions were relaxed and the government encouraged people to return to work. On Sept. 21, government scientists projected a worst-case scenario of around 50,000 new cases a day by mid-October

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The lockdown learning curve

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How rapidly does a learning curve decline during a period of prolonged interruption? That’s the question asked by US researchers in the International Journal of Quality Engineering and Technology. Adedeji Badiru of the Air Force Institute of Technology in Dayton, Ohio, U.S., has specifically looked at how the “lockdown” response to the global COVID-19 pandemic has affected business, industry, academia, and government.

There is perhaps insufficient “live data” to draw solid conclusions. Badiru has nevertheless found that workers, as a result of being barred from practicing their normal functions and learning on the job, have experienced a decline in performance. The restrictive nature of lockdown implemented to reduce the spread of the virus has led to performance degradation.

He has postulated an analytical framework that researchers can use as new data emerges to allow empirical modeling of the adverse impacts of the lockdown on learning curves. The inherent concern with such adversity in the face of the global pandemic is that a decline in learning can translate to a decline in quality of work and quality of products. He suggests retrospective research might now follow in the wake of his IJQET column.

How social distancing during a pandemic affects the elderly in rural South Africa

More information:
Adedeji Badiru. Quality insight: exponential decay of quality learning curves during COVID-19 lockdown, International Journal of Quality Engineering and Technology (2020). DOI: 10.1504/IJQET.2020.110328

The lockdown learning curve (2020, October 16)
retrieved 16 October 2020
from https://phys.org/news/2020-10-lockdown.html

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