School and health officials have an eye on coronavirus infection numbers, hoping to stave off stricter prevention measures.
The 7-day rolling average of new daily cases of COVID-19 detected in the Bear River Health District is about 34 on Monday after reaching a high point of over 38 last Thursday.
There are an estimated 676 active cases in the district, which includes Cache, Box Elder and Rich counties.
Statewide and locally, health officials are attributing the surge in reported infections to young adults, especially college students.
Universities have strong health precautions, according to State Epidemiologist Angela Dunn, so officials are more worried about what students are doing outside the classroom.
One notable difference between USU students and other Cache Valley residents is that the former may be more likely to get tested for the virus. The university runs its own testing program in an effort to stay ahead of outbreaks and keep in-person classes as an option up until courses are slated to go all-online after the fall break.
USU spent much of last week testing residents of the Living Learning Community dorms, where they found more than 30 positive cases. Early in the semester, the university made headlines when it quarantined a dorm after detecting elevated levels of the virus with ongoing sewage tests.
While there has been some concern about older high school students’ behavior spreading the virus in a similar manner, local districts are reporting relatively low infections.
Logan School District reported three active cases as of Monday: two at Logan High School and one at Mount Logan Middle School.
Cache County School District is reporting seven active cases: Three at Green Canyon High School, one at Mountain Crest High School, two at Greenville Elementary and one at Summit Elementary.
While the state does not require a school to close if it reaches a certain number of active infections among its students and teachers, it has recommended a limit of 15. Those guidelines are under review, according to the State of Utah COVID-19 Response account on Twitter, but “the guideline is meant to start a conversation between schools and local health authorities.”
One way Utah is pushing back on the increase in young adults contracting the virus is through the “Ronalert” public awareness campaign, running on college campuses and social media.
“The campaign encourages our young people to make choices that we know help stop the spread of COVID-19 — wearing a mask, physical distancing, washing your hands, and staying home when you are sick or have tested positive,” the Utah Department of Health stated last Friday.
One of the campaign’s key messages is that it’s up to students to follow precautions and limit the virus’s spread so in-person classes can continue.
“You’re so over it,” copy from the campaign’s website states. “No more classes from home. No more Zoom links. No more social life from a phone in your bedroom. But if you wanna stay at school, you gotta avoid the Rona! Don’t get careless now.”