As of Sept. 11, Sam Houston State University reported 154 confirmed COVID-19 cases from the last two weeks, with 71 of those cases coming from this past week alone.
In light of the rising numbers, SHSU moved to a “low end” of response level two, which tightens suggestions on how to proceed.
“What this move does is reinforce the need to remain hypervigilant in our protocols, monitor the situation very closely and be prepared to be more restrictive if needed in order to ‘flatten the curve,’” a statement from the university said.
The New York Times recently put out a report that puts positive COVID-19 cases relative to the population of their area. As of Sept. 11, Huntsville ranked at or near the top of the “Where the Outbreak is Worst Now” and “Where There May Be Bad News Ahead” categories. Huntsville has now fallen significantly lower on these two lists.
When asked if seeing these numbers will have any impact on SHSU moving forward, a statement from the university outlined several issues they took with the reporting methods and said that SHSU focuses on localized data.
“Patchwork reporting or an understanding of the unique underlying factors driving data does not equate to accurate reporting or meaningful and actionable information,” a statement from the university said. “This is why President White has established a COVID-19 Work Group, which meets daily, to focus on localized data and information that can translate into workable ideas and solutions to help maintain the safety of the community.”
The Walker County Office of Emergency Management compiles daily updates on local COVID-19 numbers. For Sept. 11, it reported 1,206 active cases and 632 recovered in the county.
Walker County Emergency Management Coordinator Butch Davis said that his office has been in contact with the university’s emergency management coordinator daily. Though the numbers on campus are rising, he suspects off campus activities are playing a major role.
“I do not believe it’s from on campus, I believe it is from off campus contact with people that is causing this problem,” Davis said.
“We’re always concerned about people getting together,” Davis said. “You can’t stop people, they’re going to do what they’re going to do. If they’re not being diligent when they’re away from the campus, you could have a problem.”
When asked what the university had to say to those who are concerned with the growing number of cases or doubting the efficacy of SHSU’s response plan, a spokesperson from the university wrote the following:
“We hear you, we see you and we understand your concerns, your stress and the challenges we are all facing during these unprecedented times as we learn about the virus. This is a trying time for all of us, however, Sam Houston State will not waiver on its mission to provide a quality education and a safer environment for all students, faculty and staff.”
SHSU keeps track of the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases on their website.
*NOTE: New data is coming in regularly, and the information in this article is the latest as of Sept. 11, 2020.