Omicron COVID-19 variant hits EWU

The COVID-19 Omicron variant caused Cheney cases to spike right after break.

The COVID-19 Omicron variant caused Cheney cases to spike right after break.

By Randle Kinswa, Managing Editor

The EWU/Cheney area has experienced a measurable increase in the amount of reported cases of COVID-19 since the start of the Winter Quarter. 

The number of cases reported in the Cheney area prior to the week before the start of Winter Quarter was in the single-digits, according to the EWU COVID-19 taskforce. It has since risen week-to-week in an exponential way according to the taskforce.  

The university, in preparation for a large upswing in cases largely due to students coming back from holiday break, had already implemented new winter guidelines, regarding COVID-19, and its new deadly variant, OMICRON.

Many of the policies are the same from fall quarter, however, one large policy change revolves around the recent Dec. 27 decision made by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, when it comes to contact tracing. 

The OMICRON variant, according to the CDC, does not require the same period of isolation as opposed to previous variants. The CDC recommends isolating for only five days if an individual is asymptomatic or if their symptoms are resolving. 

Previously, the isolation period was required to be up to 14 days. 

EWU also has provided students with the opportunity to receive free, rapid COVID-19 testing for all students on either the Cheney or Spokane campus. For the most updated testing locations click on this link:  EWU’s COVID testing website. 

For students or employees, the isolation period for an individual who is not vaccinated, and has been exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19, is also just five days now. On the fifth day, the individual is encouraged to then get tested for COVID-19. 

Another change in the universities policy towards combatting COVID-19, is permitting instructors to ask for proof that a student who previously missed class due to COVID-19, followed-through on their social promise to isolate and quarantine due to possible exposure to COVID-19.  

According to one anonymous administrator, EWU has no concrete plans on transitioning to an online medium in the future.