Conquering COVID-19: It takes an entire campus to beat the coronavirus

On Tuesday, Aug. 18, The News posted an editorial urging University administrators to release the number of positive COVID-19 cases on campus. Since then, President Bob Jackson sent out the number of positive students (14), faculty and staff (4) COVID-19 cases as of Aug.19. The News thanks President Jackson and University administrators for listening to the Murray State community and quickly delivering.

Although we fully believe this policy should have been in place when campus opened, we acknowledge this pandemic has produced unimaginable challenges that Murray State leaders have had to navigate. We respect the efforts of the administration and will always advocate for the best interests of campus safety and health. It is because of these unprecedented times that the community urges transparency, especially when it involves our health and the lives of compromised individuals. Our concern comes from a place of love and care for the Murray and Murray State community, which is why knowing the number of cases on campus is extremely important. We, too, know and should have a say on what is best for us.

Announcing campus cases is a good first step, but more can be done from everyone. As Gov. Andy Beshear has proven in his daily media briefings, providing the positivity rate is just as important as the number of cases and should also be shared with the community as it is essential to determining whether the virus has increased, decreased or plateaued.

Students, faculty and staff must also ensure they are doing their part by abiding by the University mandates of wearing masks (and wearing them correctly) and social distancing. Murray State has already come much further than other universities in terms of being on-campus, and remaining here requires everyone to do their part. For students that means not attending (or throwing) large parties or cookouts with dozens of people not wearing masks or social distancing. Beshear has a mandate in place that says we can’t have gatherings of more than 10 people. We also have a responsibility to report those who are non-compliant. Concerns or violations of non-university events and activities can be sent to msu.racersafeandhealthy@murraystate.edu.

The Calloway County Health Department reported 18 new cases today, Aug. 22, and Jerry Penner, chief executive officer at Murray-Calloway County Hospital, put out an urgent plea on social media regarding the rise in cases. Penner said Calloway County will end the week with over 80 new positive cases, a record we shouldn’t be proud of. (Don’t forget we are also on the White House’s list of “red zone” counties.) He urged people to wear their masks, even in small gatherings, citing this as the source of the escalation in cases.

It will take everyone on this campus—faculty, staff and students—making the best choices and abiding by the Racer Safe and Healthy Guidelines if we want to remain on campus. So long as the Murray State community is responsible for their part in keeping the virus at bay and the University continues to provide swift updates, this can still be a great semester.

The News is committed to providing any and all updates regarding COVID-19 to our readers, and that includes the weekly positive cases reported by the University administration. You can also find those here.