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UPDATE: 103 students, 15 staff test positive for COVID-19

This article is an update to an Aug. 21 story announcing newly-released case numbers

The Mercer University administration announced Aug. 21 that 118 people — 103 students and 15 faculty and staff — tested positive for COVID-19 across Mercer’s four campuses, coming on the heels of mass testing for Macon residential undergraduate students. 

These tests were conducted before the start of fall semester classes, and students who tested positive did not move into communal campus housing.

The 103 student cases also included the 35 students — including 29 student-athletes — who the university announced Aug. 5 tested positive for COVID-19.  

“The reason for doing all of this was to give us a baseline,” Senior Vice President for Marketing Communications Larry Brumley said. “Before classes started, we would have an understanding of what the scope of positive cases is…. so we can get those students isolated, get them fully recovered as quickly as possible and provide the least amount of disruption for our fall classes.”

All Mercer residential undergraduate students were required to be tested for COVID-19 as part of Mercer’s move-in process. The newly released numbers show that, of the 4,229 tests from students that the university received between July 20 and Aug. 19, 103 students tested positive.

The additional 15 cases come from 263 faculty and staff members who were tested for COVID-19 from July 29 to Aug. 19.

While the 118 new COVID-19 cases documented in the release include positive tests from all four Mercer campuses, Brumley said that many of those cases come from the Macon campus. That is because all undergraduate residential students were required to be tested before moving into their dorms.

“Obviously the vast majority of those are Macon-based because that’s the biggest population that we tested,” Brumley said. 

Brumley declined to break down the case numbers for each individual campus. He said that Mercer Medicine is “fully concentrating” on testing and “less on a lot of granular data” but said that the administration is continuing to refine their reporting procedures going forward. 

The 118 cases documented bring the total known campus coronavirus cases to 128. A New York Times account published July 29 documented 10 cases from the onset of the pandemic and Mercer’s summer session. 

Brumley noted that Mercer administrators are meeting daily to discuss the incoming data and new developments and said that it is a “very dynamic environment.”

“With our own testing capabilities here on campus, we feel that positions Mercer better than many others to stay on campus and stay on top of this,” Brumley said. “We believe we have a plan in place that positions Mercer as well as anyone to navigate this and deal with this.” 

The Cluster will continue to publish updates on case numbers as they are made available.


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