masks on campus

A Northwest students wears a face covering on campus during the first week of classes at the University last week. Nodaway County recorded 46 new cases of COVID-19 Aug. 26, 44 of which were in patients in the 10-29 age group. 

A week into Northwest’s fall semester and the day after 90% of Maryville High School students started classes, the fourth COVID-19 death and 46 new cases were recorded in Nodaway County Aug. 26, a record high by more than a dozen cases.

The University reported at least 58 of the 204 active cases in the county being Northwest students or employees — though that figure hasn’t been updated since Aug. 25 on Northwest’s COVID-19 response webpage. The vast majority of those who tested positive this week have been under the age of 30.

At least 147 of the total 430 cases in the county since April 2 are Northwest students or employees, according to the University. Forty four of the 46 cases recorded Aug. 26 were between the ages of 10 and 29.

Superintendent of the Maryville School District Becky Albrecht said Aug. 26 there are 31 district students in quarantine: seven in preschool through fifth grade, six in middle school and 18 in high school. However, Albrecht said some of these students were already quarantining before school started.

Albrecht said one Maryville High School student tested positive after the first day of classes Aug. 25, causing at least 10 other students to quarantine for 14 days as a part of the district’s efforts to contact trace.

“We are doing the best that we can,” Albrecht said.

At the University, meanwhile, Vice President of Student Affairs Matt Baker said Aug. 26 that “several hundred” Northwest students are in quarantine after a week of classes.

As cases continue to climb both on and off Northwest’s campus, Baker said less than 10% of the quarantine and isolation rooms the University has set aside in North Complex are filled, as of Aug. 25. Zero Northwest cases have been hospitalized, he said. And as the number of students resigned to quarantine continues to mount, Baker said his level of concern is “still doing pretty well.”

Despite Northwest President John Jasinksi’s warning Aug. 21 that Northwest would “soon” send students home if they didn’t begin “adhering to basic mitigation efforts” and despite the flood of COVID-19 cases that have followed the president’s email, Baker said there are no plans to change course.

“Do I think it’s possible? Yes,” Baker said Aug. 21. “Do I think we’re imminently there? I don’t have that sense right now.”

Nodaway County Health Department Administrator Tom Patterson did not return phone calls requesting a comment.

The city of Maryville and Northwest have not issued new preventative measures or guidelines, and the University has not made any announcements regarding the possibility of shifting classes entirely online in the last week.

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