Salve Regina University has had just two positive coronavirus cases, fewest among colleges in R.I.

NEWPORT, R.I. (WLNE) – With the news of coronavirus cases rising among college students in Rhode Island, Salve Regina University in Newport is touting the fact that they have had the fewest cases, with just two students testing positive since the start of school.

As of Wednesday, Salve Regina has tested 3,615 people in the campus community since move-in day on August 19. With just two tests coming back positive, the school has a positivity rate of .55%. There have been several weeks of zero cases, the school confirms.

“I feel extremely safe here. Everybody takes it pretty seriously. There’s so many rules and regulations that people follow,” said sophomore Mackenna Hadawi.

President of Salve Regina, Dr. Kelli J. Armstrong, cites frequent and random testing as a reason for how they’ve been able to keep a lid on the virus.

“We’re still at only 2 positive cases and those were quite a while ago, so, the last few weeks we’ve had consistently no positive cases,” Dr. Armstrong said. “Our program has been one that is a blend of testing symptomatic students immediately, and then our surveillance random testing of students who are asymptomatic. But we also test regularly those students who might be at higher risk.”

Those deemed high risk are students in the nursing program who are working in hospitals and education students who are working in schools. Cleaning staff along with dining hall employees are also considered high risk.

“So those folks get tested very regularly, and then there’s a random sample that’s done each day of our community pulled from our database.”

Dr. Armstrong said around 400 people are tested at random per week. But that’s not all they’re doing.

“The testing’s only part of what we do. So, we have our students do a daily app of symptom screening, and then we have a really strict pledge and protocol that all of our community is signed onto in terms of mask-wearing, social distancing, and frankly, really strict policies in our residence halls and in our community.”

To prevent cramping inside residence halls, around 140 students are staying at the Newport Marriott.

As for off-campus students, Salve has just under 1,000 living in off-campus apartments in the city. Dr. Armstrong said, unlike Providence College and Johnson & Wales University, Salve is lucky to be located in Newport where off-campus apartments are spread out.

She said campus police have been patrolling those neighborhoods to keep an eye on things.

But the biggest factor in their success, she said, are the students who are taking this pandemic seriously.

“We’ve been really blessed with the students really embracing this and being really well behaved around the seriousness of COVID,” Dr. Armstrong said. “We’re all about the common good here, so our message to students when they came here, before COVID, was you were here to serve the common good. That’s what we’re all about. So, to take care of one another, and make sure that we keep each other safe, was pretty consistent with that mission.”

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Categories: Coronavirus, Newport, News, Regional News, Rhode Island