Nov. 5: Public Health Travel Advisory

Dear Students, 

I write with important and timely information regarding COVID-19 transmission on our campus and in the state of Maine. Due to a sharp rise in cases of COVID-19 in the state of Maine and several recent cases on our campus, I write to ask all of you to take special care over the next several weeks to increase your attention to public health measures and avoid situations that may expose yourself or others to COVID-19. 

Specifically, I encourage you to remain on-campus as much as possible, adhere to all public health protocols, and not travel off-campus until you leave for the November break. For students who live off-campus, I encourage you to limit your travel to going from your residence to campus and vice versa.

Rationale for Remaining On-Campus

Last week, three students tested positive for COVID-19, and through the contact-tracing process we were not able to identify a common source of the infection. The contact-tracing process revealed 20 student close contacts who remain in quarantine. 

Today we learned that two more students and one employee have tested positive for COVID-19, and we have not even received the full results from yesterday’s testing. We have completed contact tracing for these two new student cases and have identified 31 close contacts who have now entered in-room quarantine. For these two new student cases, there also does not appear to be a common source of infection. These unrelated cases suggest that as Maine cases increase, so does our students’ risk of exposure to COVID-19 through off-campus activities. This is cause for deepening concern. 

In the state of Maine, there has been a dramatic spike in the number of new COVID-19 cases over the past couple of weeks. Allow me to share some important data with you about new cases in Maine since the beginning of this month:

November 1: 93 new cases
November 2: 192 new cases
November 3: 127 new cases
November 4: 163 new cases
November 5: 183 new cases

As a point of reference, in Maine there were an average of 29 new cases per day in September, and an average of 42 new cases per day in October. According to Dr. Nirav Shah, the director of the Maine CDC, “COVID-19 remains serious and grows more serious with each passing day.”

Testing Positive or Being a Close Contact with the November Break on the Horizon

With the November break on the horizon, it is important to remember that per Maine state policy:

  • Students who test positive must remain in isolation at Bates for at least 10 days;
  • Students who are close contacts of someone who tests positive must remain in quarantine at Bates for at least 14 days; and
  • Students in isolation and quarantine may not leave their residence hall room or isolation room until cleared to discontinue isolation or quarantine.

This means that beginning next week, students who test positive or are close contacts will experience disruptions to their November break travel plans and need to remain at Bates until they are cleared to discontinue their quarantine or isolation from Bates Health Services. 

This further underscores the importance of adhering to all of our public health protocols.

Thank You and Where to Direct Questions

Thank you for taking these public health practices seriously and redoubling your efforts to take care of yourself and members of our community. I appreciate the many ways you are working to enable us to continue to offer an on-campus experience this fall. Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the appropriate office within Student Affairs or email us at studentaffairs@bates.edu.

I will be back in touch when I have additional information to share with you.

All my best,

Joshua McIntosh
Vice President for Campus Life