News briefs 8/1/21

Audrey Whitaker, News Editor

GV COVID-19 campus data update

The GVSU community has had a cumulative total of 3,349 cases since Aug. 1, 2020. The university’s update for this brief was from Thursday, July 29.

Through testing results this past week, GVSU’s Virus Action team have so far reported six current active cases including two staff members, one on-campus student, one “off-campus Ottawa” student, one “off-campus Kent” student and one “off-campus other” student 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 88,886 tests overall since August 21, 2021, for a cumulative positivity rate of 0.00% from the latest update as of last week. A total of 271 tests were performed over the last seven days.

“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.

Vaccination: GVSU encourages all students, faculty and staff to receive the COVID-19 vaccination as soon as possible. According to the COVID-19 data dashboard, 80% vaccination rate in the GVSU community is required to reach herd immunity and minimal virus transmission.

Currently, approximately 30% of students report being fully vaccinated, while approximately 75% of faculty and staff reports being fully vaccinated.

GVSU researchers partner with local health departments in wastewater testing program

GVSU announced its partnership with Kent, Ottawa and Muskegon health departments in a program that tests wastewater for genetic markers of COVID-19 over the next two years.

Pei-Lan Tsou, associate professor of cell and molecular biology, and Sheila Blackman, professor of biology and cell and molecular biology, will work primarily with samples from Kent county. While researchers at the Annis Water Institute in Muskegon will partner with the Ottawa County Health Department to process samples from Muskegon and Ottawa counties.

The partnership comes as a result of grants awarded to the Kent Health Department and Ottawa Health Department by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. The Kent County Health Department received a $3.3 million grant for wastewater testing, and the Ottawa County Department of Public Health received a $1.7 million grant for wastewater testing in Ottawa and Muskegon counties.

GV begins nationwide search for next provost

An 18-person committee of students, faculty and staff has been established to guide the search for the university’s next provost. Provost and executive vice president Maria Cimitile announced she would be stepping down after four years in the role at the June 25 Board of Trustees meeting.

The committee is co-chaired by Felix Ngassa, professor of chemistry and chair of University Academic Senate, and Paul Stansbie, associate dean of the College of Education and Community Innovation. Updates on the search will be posted online on the Provost Search webpage and announced to the campus community.