Sept. 18 COVID update: Student cases up by 18; everyone urged to get flu shots


The number of COVID-19 cases on Pitt’s Oakland campus since Aug. 1 rose by 18 since Sept. 15, with three coming from the 275 asymptomatic students tested on Sept. 14.

The five-day moving average of positive tests per day dropped from a high of 12.2 as of Sept. 9 to 3.6 as of today, according to the COVID-19 Dashboard.


A message today from the COVID-19 Medical Response Office urged students, faculty and staff to get seasonal flu shots. The University is hosting free flu shot clinics for students at all five campuses. Registration is required.

The Office of Human Resources is still working out details to deliver shots to faculty and staff. If you are currently working off-campus and plan to travel to campus for a flu shot clinic, you will be required to complete the Daily COVID-19 Health Check prior to arriving on the day of your appointment.

“In the setting of a pandemic, the last thing we need is another serious virus spreading,” said Elise Martin, a member of the COVID-19 Medical Response Office. “Anything we can do to decrease flu is going to help us keep our campus safe and healthy.”

The new cases bring the total among students to 203 since Aug. 1, when many began returning to the Oakland area. Of those, 64 remain in isolation. No new cases were reported among faculty or staff in Oakland.

On the regional campuses, there were no new student cases. Two staff or faculty cases have been reported this week on the Johnstown campus. More surveillance testing will be conducted at the Greensburg, Johnstown and Bradford campuses this month.

“Things look like they are steadying. We're not seeing increased climb at the moment,” said Elise Martin, a member of the COVID-19 Medical Response Office and a faculty member in the School of Medicine. “We want to shift our focus to containing the spread on our campus through close contacts. This next phase is going to be about being very vigilant with testing close contacts.”

In a video message earlier today, Dean of Students Kenyon Bonner thanked those who are wearing face coverings, physically distancing and following Pitt’s health and safety rules, but he said, “We need a full-court press against COVID-19 for the entire fall semester. We’re doing great, but it’s way too early to turn on the Victory Lights.”

He urged students who don’t feel well to contact Student Health Service at 412-383-1800 about getting a test and to “not hunker down” in their houses, apartments or residence halls.

Chancellor Patrick Gallagher told Senate Council on Sept. 17, “I think we also have to give the students credit in this case, and I want to thank the students for their responsiveness to the guidance.”

Gallagher said Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and county Health Department Director Debra Bogen both have commented to him about the high rates of compliance with wearing masks that they’ve seen during visits to campus.

“And it’s clearly making a difference,” the chancellor said. “Some of us get a little superstitious about being positive because, you know, things can change quickly. So don’t be complacent.”

Martin told Senate Council that 98 percent of the symptomatic students who have tested positive are undergraduates, and of those, 10 percent are freshmen. She reiterated that 80 percent of the cases are from students who live off campus.

Of the more than 3,329 students who’ve participated in surveillance testing since Aug. 12, only 12 have tested positive. Martin said the surveillance testing would continue throughout the semester for students who live on and off campus.

Surveillance testing is being conducted Mondays and Wednesdays on asymptomatic students on the Oakland campus, and updated reports on the number of cases will be released on Tuesdays and Fridays.

Susan Jones is editor of the University Times. Reach her at or 412-648-4294.


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