Spring Semester Begins Within Omicron Surge


Tyler Spence, Executive Editor

Marshall University started the spring semester in an unusual stage of the pandemic. On the day classes started, the United States was averaging nearly 750,000 coronavirus cases a day due to the massive surge caused by the Omicron variant. This number is likely a low count due to the popularity of at home tests and Omicron presenting less severe symptoms than other variants. The CDC recently updated its guidance to shorten the length of quarantine to five days for most who test positive.  

Although over 80% of Marshall students are vaccinated, classrooms have felt the absence of students in a way previously unseen in other stages of the pandemic. At the end of last semester, Marshall averaged around 10 active cases between students and employees. On January 13th, active cases peaked to 192—by far the highest since the start of the pandemic. Over the past two weeks, Marshall has averaged 26 cases a day according to the Coronavirus dashboard.  

Marshall’s mask policy was updated and reinforced near the start of the semester in response to the rise in cases: testing was mandatory for all students required of vaccination status and students were required to sign the return to campus agreement before attending classes.  

Employees were also strongly encouraged to get tested, but not required due to the limited supply. The federal government quietly launched a website (COVIDTests.gov) for Americans to order at-home tests to be delivered for free. Tests ship within 7-10 days of ordering and deliver in 1-3 days. Since Saturday, private insurance companies have been required to cover the cost of any at-home test through reimbursement for up to eight tests a month.