News briefs 10/12/20

Olivia Fellows, News Editor

GV COVID-19 campus data update

Since GVSU began conducting random testing on campus Aug. 27, the cumulative total COVID-19 cases since August 1st is 969. The university’s update of data used for this brief was from Friday, Oct. 9.

Through testing results this past week, GVSU’s Virus Action team have so far reported 1 faculty member, 5 staff members, 4 on-campus students, 31 “off-campus Ottawa” students, and 9 “off-campus Kent” students, 2 “off-campus other” students with active COVID-19 cases.

“Current active cases” is the count of positive cases reported to the Virus Action Team over the past ten days.  This is an estimate of those currently in isolation, assuming a ten-day symptomatic period following the reporting of a positive test result. Actual periods of isolation are specific to the individual and determined by the county health department.

Testing and Incidence: GVSU’s own testing program has performed 14,073 tests overall since August 21, for a positivity rate of 0.19% from the latest update as of the last week.

“GV Surveillance” includes the GV/Spectrum administered programs of: randomized testing, regular testing of high-risk groups, and invited testing of individuals connected to potential clusters. A calendar is available. “GV Total” includes surveillance testing plus all symptomatic/exposure tests administered by Spectrum.


Padnos/Sarosik Civil Discourse Program to host post-election conversations

This has been one of the most turbulent years in our nation’s history, and the upcoming November election seems likely to continue that trend. The Civil Discourse Program is hosting a post-election campus conversation — a space for open, honest, yet constructive dialogue to process election results. Civil Discourse Program leaders will facilitate a space for people to share their thoughts and feelings while remaining committed to ensuring a constructive and respectful conversation.

The discussions will be split into three groups: staff, faculty and student conversations. The staff conversation will take place Nov. 4, 9:30-10:30 a.m. The faculty conversation will be sponsored in partnership with Pew Faculty Teaching and Learning Center, and will take place Nov.6, 12-1 p.m. The student conversation will take place Nov. 9, 4-5 p.m.

All conversations will happen via Zoom and will be acilitated by Lisa M. Perhamus, Director of the PSCD Program and Jeff Kelly Lowenstein, Padnos/Sarosik Endowed Professor of Civil Discourse.


Virus Action Team encourages flu shots as winter approaches

In recent weeks, the number of positive COVID-19 test results within Grand Valley State Universty community continues to decline. The last couple of days shows three people testing positive.

Students studying and living in Allendale remain under the “Staying Safe” order through Oct.16, and while this order applies to students, all faculty and staff are encouraged to wear a face covering at all times outdoors while on campus.

With winter approaching, GVSU’s Virus Action Team (VAT) is encouraging students to get their flu shots, as getting immunized during a pandemic is an important part of maintaining your health and safety during flu season.

The viruses that cause COVID-19 and the flu spread in similar ways, and because COVID-19 and the flu have similar symptoms, it can be hard to diagnose which condition you have based on symptoms alone. You can also have both diseases at the same time. To combat the flu, GVSU is holding its annual flu vaccination clinics.

Flu shots have been shown to reduce the risk of flu illness, hospitalization, and death. Getting a flu shot can reduce your sick days, and can save health care resources for the care of patients with COVID-19. Getting vaccinated yourself may also protect people around you, including those who are more vulnerable to serious flu illness.

According to the VAT, you will not get the flu from a flu shot. A common misconception is that you can contract the flu from a vaccine, but this not possible because the shot uses a deadened form of the virus. The sooner you get the flu shot, the better. Flu season usually starts sometime in October and can last until May, so it is important to get vaccinated early.

The GVSU COVID call center (616) 331-4636 remains in operation weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and weekends from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Personal health concerns should be directed to the GVSU/Spectrum Health 24-hour call center (833) 734-0020. The Virus Action Team meets daily and provides updates to university leadership and the dashboard.


GV economics expert: Recession recovery continues

The economic recovery in West Michigan that began in July is still on track, said Brian G. Long, director of Supply Management Research in Grand Valley State University’s Seidman College of Business.

Long surveyed local business leaders and his findings below are based on data collected during the last two weeks of September.

The survey’s index of business improvement (new orders) came in at +18, virtually unchanged from last month’s rate of +19. The production index increased to +20, a modest improvement from +13. The index of purchases edged up to +14, from +10, and the employment index remained positive at +9, from +13.

Long said while the local economy recovery continues, it is at a slower pace than hoped.

“Many future office furniture customers are rethinking the concept of the traditional office,” Long said. “Office designers and engineers are feverishly working on new office designs that incorporate more separation and social distancing for office workers who must work in a traditional office and cannot work from home.”

Long said designers and engineers at some local firms are working on lower-cost configurations for the home office market to compete with out-of-state firms.

Long also said he expects the local economy to continue to slowly recover.

“It seems likely that enough people are following the simple rules of wearing masks, social distancing and washing hands, that another March-style shut-down is unlikely,” said Long.

The Institute for Supply Management survey is a monthly survey of business conditions that includes 45 purchasing managers in the greater Grand Rapids area and 25 in Kalamazoo. The respondents are from the region’s major industrial manufacturers, distributors and industrial service organizations. It is patterned after a nationwide survey conducted by the Institute for Supply Management. Each month, the respondents are asked to rate eight factors as “same,” “up” or “down.”