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Patriots: Mason's COVID rate is low, let's keep it that way

September 22, 2020

As you know, last week George Mason University made the decision to test our most at-risk population—our residential students—to see if there was any significant impact from the Labor Day holiday. I’m pleased to share that with 97 percent of those results in, we have seen a remarkably low rate of transmission: just 11 positive students out of more than 2,400 test results, or a 0.45 percent positivity rate.

These numbers are even better than the number of transmissions off campus (12 active cases), and we have recorded zero classroom-related outbreaks to date. The total number of positive cases among our 51,000-member community of students, faculty, and staff stands at fewer than 30. These extraordinary numbers are cause for encouragement—not to let up on our efforts to keep COVID-19 away, but to stay the course. Relative to managing COVID-19 outbreaks, these results are the best for any large institution in Virginia and one of the best in the country, and they are proof that the decisions made up to this point were the right ones and a model for others to follow.

Over the course of months, the Mason team has built a multi-layered approach to keeping COVID-19 at bay, starting with pre-arrival quarantining and screening of students headed to live and study at Mason, and continuing with ongoing testing of randomized samples of the population, physical distancing, heightened hygiene requirements across campus, robotic food delivery, management of congregate student activity, and partnerships with our local community. But the most important reason for our low rate of transmission is the decision by our community—particularly our students—to take this situation very seriously. You have all done an outstanding job of doing your part, and the results are clear for everyone to see.

And while we are strongly encouraged by our initial success, our top priorities include caring for those are sick or are in quarantine because they were in close contact with someone who has tested positive. We are working to make sure you get proper health care, housing, and food brought to you so that you can recover. And we will continue to use our Starship Robots, which have helped deliver food to many while minimizing exposures from human contact.

Equally important is that we all continue to be vigilant on campus and follow the guidelines in the Safe Return to Campus plan that have been shown to be so effective. This situation can change rapidly, so we need everyone to double down on efforts. Remember:

  • Please wear face coverings in public and around others.
  • Practice physical distancing whenever possible.
  • Wash hands frequently.
  • Complete the Mason COVID Health √TM each day.
  • Participate in random testing if selected.
  • Stay in your residence hall or home if you feel sick.
  • Manage yourself relative to congregate activity (parties, large gatherings, etc.)

Finally, we will continue to refine our planning for the rest of the semester and are developing an equally impactful plan for the upcoming spring semester. Our shared commitment to safety and well-being is another example of why George Mason University remains a leader in higher education.

Great job, Patriots—let’s all keep it up!

Sincerely,

Gregory Washington
President