The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported high COVID-19 community transmission rates in Hamilton County and all surrounding counties for the week of September 25 to October 1.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), community transmission is indicated when someone becomes infected with a virus, but the source of the infection is unknown.
The CDC measures the severity of COVID-19 community transmission through two factors: the number of new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 persons in the past seven days and the percentage of positive nucleic acid amplification tests (NAATs).
For new cases, less than 10 cases per 100,000 persons is considered low, 10 to 49.99 is considered moderate, 50 to 99.99 is considered substantial and 100 or more new cases is considered high. For the percentage of positive NAATs, less than 5% is considered low, 5% to 7.99% is considered moderate, 8% to 9.99% is considered substantial and 10% or greater is considered high. If a county has different severity levels in each factor, it is given the higher transmission rating.
From September 29 to October 4, Hamilton County reported a total of 856 new COVID-19 cases, according to the CDC. Additionally, the county reported 14.57% in positive NAATs from September 23 to 29.
In an email to the Accent, University Health Center (UHC) nurse practitioner Michelle Mix stated that the UHC has seen individuals who tested positive for COVID-19 but were unaware of how they contracted the illness. Although some individuals may not know who gave them the illness, Mix said the UHC still finds their close contacts to quarantine or test as needed.
The UHC was unable to provide exact numbers regarding common sources of COVID-19 transmission. In a separate email, Mix stated the UHC currently does not have anyone performing an epidemiological study on campus COVID-19 cases.
Mix said speaking anecdotally, the most common source of COVID-19 transmission is through household contact, which includes family and roommates. Close friends and significant others also commonly contribute to COVID-19 transmission, according to Mix. She said the UHC has also seen transmission from lab partners and co-workers, as well as classroom transmission, in no consistent order.
“Often when we contact trace a classroom, we see that many students are clustered together while there are many open seats available, which would allow for more distancing,” Mix wrote in the email. “Students wanting to avoid classroom transmission and quarantine should consider sitting away from others when possible.”
Mix said other ways people can reduce the spread of COVID-19 is by getting vaccinated, social distancing and wearing a mask. However, Mix said the UHC recognizes that masking and distancing may not always be possible or personally preferable, especially in household or social settings.
In the email, Mix also listed health recommendations to reduce the severity of COVID-19 symptoms.
Mix said students interested in individualized health recommendations can visit the UHC. The UHC can be contacted at 423-236-2713.
UHC health recommendations to reduce the severity of COVID-19 symptoms:
- Exercise for 30 minutes three to five times per week.
- Get an adequate amount of sleep every night. Aim for seven to eight hours.
- Maintain a diet heavy in fruits and vegetables.
- Limit eating processed foods — think anything that comes in packaging.
- Watch out for nutritional deficiencies. Vitamin C, Vitamin D and zinc are the most common deficiencies.*
*Consult a healthcare provider before incorporating vitamin or mineral supplements into your diet.