7/29/20 Esteban Ramirez

In response to the increase in coronavirus cases among Purdue employees, Dr. Esteban Ramirez, who leads the Protect Purdue Health Center, sent an urgent message: "Don't let your mask down."

As the days until Thanksgiving break continue to decrease, Purdue’s Office of the Provost held a conversation discussing the uptick in COVID-19 cases, and urged community members to limit gatherings for the upcoming holiday.

“We’re not seeing so much of the trend that we saw early on,” said Dr. Esteban Ramirez, the Chief Medical Officer at the Protect Purdue Health Center. “We used to see a lot of positives coming from primarily congregate living situations and now more and more we’re seeing that — yes, there are still positive cases there — but we’re seeing some of our employees now coming up more positive as well. That lends towards the community spread.”

Ramirez said activities like going to restaurants and bars and attending family gatherings seem to be the cause of the increased number of positive cases.

“In many cases we are quick to assume that maybe it’s the students bringing it to the community," he said, "but in this case we’re kind of seeing that it’s more our community behaviors that’s starting to bring it back a little more to some of our cases on campus.”

Ramirez said there is still no evidence of cases being spread in classrooms.

Both Ramirez and Eric Barker, the Dean of the College of Pharmacy, urged faculty, staff and students to exercise the utmost care when considering their safety this holiday season.

“Now is the time to really limit activities to protect yourselves and protect your families,” Barker said.

Despite the rising cases, Thanksgiving will likely bring about a decrease in Tippecanoe County’s cases, said Dr. Jeremy Adler, Health Officer at the Tippecanoe County Health Department, due to a decrease in the number of tests performed.

“The number of new cases for the county as a whole will decrease somewhat because some of our current new cases are Purdue students,” said Adler. “It will also likely affect our county’s percent positivity because the number of tests being performed is lower.”

Though plans for spring semester are not set in stone, the University is looking to keep a similar residential learning model, while encouraging more in-person participation and also expanding testing capabilities.

“We will be monitoring all of the data we have locally but also put it in the context of the county state and national situation,” said Jay Akridge, Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Diversity.

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