COVID-19: Here’s what students can expect next semester Thursday, Dec 17 2020 

By Joseph Garcia — 

With COVID-19 showing no signs of slowing down, U of L has already begun looking ahead to the spring semester and has updated its COVID guidelines.

Here’s what students can expect over winter break and next spring:

Winter Break COVID-19 Testing Schedule:

Bluewater Diagnostics Lab, the organization that conducted U of L’s COVID tests in the fall, will continue providing tests to university members on campus over Winter Break.

These tests are for asymptomatic individuals only and begin Dec. 21 through Dec. 23. Another round of testing will occur at the end of the month, from the 28th until the 30th. You can schedule an appointment here.

Individuals already experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 should contact one of the Campus Health locations for a free rapid test.

Spring 2021 COVID-19 Testing Schedule:

Free testing will continue once the semester starts and run throughout the spring during various testing periods.

“The first required testing period will be Jan. 4 through Jan. 15,” U of L’s Coordinating Committee told students in an email outlining the updated COVID guidelines. The committee includes University Provost Beth Boehm, Dean of Students Michael Mardis and Executive Director of Campus Health Services Phillip Bressoud.

During this first round of testing, all students, staff and faculty who plan to return to campus are required to get tested. Prior to the start of the semester, the university is also asking that people returning to campus quarantine for 10 days prior to their return.

There will be three other mandatory testing periods during the semester: Feb. 819, March 819 and Apr1223.

At this time more information regarding the times and locations for testing has not been released.

COVID-19 and Flu Vaccines:

The Coordinating Committee also shared news on the newly developed COVID-19 vaccine by Pfizer-BioNTech.

According to U of L’s “COVID-19 Vaccine FAQ,” Kentucky is expected to receive 30,000 doses in its initial shipment from the federal government.

The committee said that once U of L receives the vaccine, it will be distributed in two phases.

Phase One includes vaccinations for U of L Health’s front-line workers and U of L front-line employees such as clinical faculty, residents and fellows. The university said in its FAQ that once more doses become available, “employees who go into our affiliated health care facilities” will receive the vaccine, “followed by our students in clinical programs such as medicine, dentistry and nursing.”

Phase Two will include teachers and childcare workers, essential workers, those with underlying conditions that put them at moderate risk, individuals over 65 years of age, and anyone in congregate housing/dorms.

Once the vaccine becomes available however, U of L said that it will not be required for students, faculty or staff. The university does, “highly encourage” campus individuals to receive the vaccination.

Currently, there is no information on how or where students will be able to receive the vaccine. U of L did say that Campus Health is preparing a voluntary vaccination program plan for the campus. They plan to release more information once the vaccine becomes available to the university.

Graphic by Andrew Campbell // The Louisville Cardinal

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Don’t bring COVID-19 into the new year, stay safe this holiday season Friday, Dec 4 2020 

By Zachary Baker–

With classes ending and finals being the main focus of every student before completely shutting down for the winter break, we have to reflect on how much we have overcome this year. We’ve overcome the pandemic suddenly changing our spring semester, the lockdowns over the summer and a tumultuous virtual semester. 

Many of us are looking forward to forgetting about academia for the next couple of weeks and to spending time with family and friends. However, despite our desires for a relaxing winter break, we must remember to stay safe and be smart.

For many students the Thanksgiving break was likely a little rough. Many of us still have work to get done, others are out of a job due to the new mandates by Governor Beshear, and likely all of us long for some time with those closest to us. 

But the reality is, COVID-19 still separates us. Despite our yearlong stress and our desire to finally take a break from it all, we have to make sure that we respect our distance around family. 

To do this, stick to small gatherings, make sure to avoid family if you are sick and go remote if you can. 

We have to remember that the holiday season is about joy, appreciation of loved ones and the celebration of each other. None of us want to lose loved ones to COVID-19. Many Americans have already lost someone that they had at the beginning of the year. COVID-19 is preventable.

Spending one Christmas limiting gatherings or going online will not kill the holiday season, but it will prevent COVID-19 from killing someone you love. 

During this tough time, we have to remember to love each other and protect those we care about without endangering them. 

With Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s all within weeks of each other, this will be a deciding time for the start of the 2021 new year. We all really want the next year to be better than this one was. 

Stay safe, healthy and enjoy yourselves for the winter season.

File Graphic // The Louisville Cardinal

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U of L students prepare for finals week amid pandemic Wednesday, Dec 2 2020 

By Nick Mattingly —

Finals week is here at the University of Louisville during a time of uncertainty and social distancing. COVID-19 has placed an immense amount of pressure and stress on students, professors and staff at the university. Hybrid classes have made up most of the semester this fall, and as finals week approaches, the university is shutdown.

This state-wide shutdown reduces resources available to students to help them study for their finals.

“I think that this lockdown couldn’t have come at a worse time,” said U of L sophomore Justin Roberts. “I have never felt the amount of stress I do now, especially with finals around the corner.”

As a sophomore, Roberts has seen how a normal semester functions, and he says that this semester is far from normal.

“All of the university resources are shutdown due to the pandemic, and I rely on some of them to help with my studies. Resources like the University Library, REACH and the Advising Office are some of the things that have helped me every semester, and without the face-to-face access, this semester has been particularly difficult for me,” Roberts said.

However, despite the lack of access to these resources, U of L students are finding new ways to study, in part thanks to the online resources U of L provides.

“I think it’s great the university is at least trying to help students the best they can, junior Alex Gomez said. “Online class meetings aren’t as helpful as face-to-face meetings, but they are better than recorded class sessions. Also, the amount of compassion that has arisen from my professors and them being very flexible with their assignments has helped me a lot.”

U of L is doing the most to help their students in these difficult and scary times. Though not all student resources are currently available, the university is still attempting to give its best services to their students. Students themselves are connecting with others virtually and using all the available technology to pass all of their exams this semester.

“I think with campus being shutdown, many are relying on their study groups, online lecture slides and e-mailing their professors with any unanswered questions before their finals come around. These troubling times are hard on everyone, not just the students at this university,” Gomez said.

Finals week, along with an online winter graduation, are all right around the corner. As students scramble to their computers and textbooks, the university is doing all they can to help their students and gift their graduating students their diplomas with the highest amount of celebration they can give them.

File Graphic // The Louisville Cardinal

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RaiseRED surpasses fundraising goal in their “Week of $20k” Tuesday, Nov 24 2020 

By Katie Volpentesta —

On Nov. 21, RaiseRED concluded their annual “Week of $20k,” a week full of virtual events to encourage fundraising and registration for the 2021 raiseRED Dance Marathon. The members of raiseRED’s executive board revealed via social media that dancers and committee members had surpassed this goal, raising $26,591.47.

RaiseRED is a year long fundraising effort that culminates in an 18-hour dance marathon, with all proceeds benefiting the Norton Children’s Cancer Institute and the U of L Department of Pediatric Oncology and Hematology. In raiseRED’s five year history at U of L, over 3 million dollars has been raised for pediatric cancer and blood disease patient care and research.

While nothing is set in stone regarding the layout of the 2021 dance marathon, which takes place on February 26, raiseRED is working harder than ever to raise money and awareness for pediatric cancer and blood disease.

During the last week, raiseRED organized a blood drive in the Red Barn, a virtual Family Feud event, a virtual talent show and a virtual 1.8 mile run.

In previous years, raiseRED was able to get the attention of new dancers during in-person events and tabling around campus, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all events and outreach have been moved online.

“[We were] trying to make these events still engaging,” Benny Gerdes, raiseRED’s internal projects coordinator, said. “With the talent show, we wanted to make sure it was concise and appealing, and with facilitating the Family Feud groups, we had to make sure sure everyone was on board virtually since we had so many games going on at once.”

While the move to virtual events this week came with challenges, there were silver linings.

“I got a chance to watch alongside a bunch of people and talk in the GroupMe,” said Trey Breen, raiseRED’s analytics coordinator. “We also invited cardinal buddies—there was an opportunity for the kids that we support to watch and feel like they’re a part of the organization as well, and it’s fun for the kids to interact with the students.”

Even with all of the uncertainty surrounding February’s marathon, raiseRED’s executive board and committee looks forward to working alongside the dancers to raise as much money as possible and strengthen the community of support for the kids.

“I think what I look forward to the most is the sense of community again. I think everyone kind of needs a win during this pandemic and year,” Breen said.

To keep up with raiseRED or to learn more about registering and fundraising, follow @raisered_uofl on Instagram and Twitter.

Photo by Katie Volpentesta // The Louisville Cardinal

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Multiple buildings evacuated after gas leak on Belknap campus Tuesday, Nov 24 2020 

By Joseph Garcia —

A gas leak on the University of Louisville’s Belknap campus led to the evacuation of multiple buildings on campus. U of L sent out a RAVE alert to students informing them of the leak which occurred near Brook St. and University Blvd on Nov. 23.

The Belknap Academic Building, Lutz Hall, the Service Complex and the Chemistry Building were all evacuated. The alert reported that both the fire department and LG&E were on the scene working to fix the situation.

U of L later sent another RAVE alert informing the campus community that while the area is safe, gas has been shut off to Lutz Hall, the Chemistry Building and the Service Plant.

They said it may take several hours before gas is turned back on while LG&E work to repair the leak.

Photo by Anthony Riley // The Louisville Cardinal

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University leadership responds to sociology department’s July letter Tuesday, Nov 17 2020 

By Madelin Shelton — 

The University of Louisville recently issued a statement in response to the sociology department’s July 7 letter that brought concerns of systemic racism at U of L to university leadership. The statement, sent out Oct. 15, was signed by U of L President Neeli Bendapudi and University Provost Beth Boehm.

The sociology department’s letter addressed inequitable treatment of Black faculty at U of L, including the marginalization of their teaching and research, biased student evaluations, and a lack of opportunity to move into leadership positions. It also challenged the university to go into further detail about its efforts to uplift Black members of U of L and to ensure the fair treatment of Black students, faculty and staff.

The statement reiterated that the university is currently developing the Cardinal Anti-Racist agenda with faculty, staff and student input. This agenda includes many objectives, including recruiting and retaining more students, faculty and staff of color, building intentionally anti-racism curriculum across all disciplines, ensuring boards, committees, and the search and hiring processes are intentionally diverse developing institutional and unit-level budgets that reflect the priority of diversity and equity and more.

Addressing the original concerns the letter brought up, the university detailed how its leadership is working to mitigate disparities among Black faculty by highlighting their scholarly contributions via social media, printed publications, advertising and marketing prowess.

“The provost’s office is currently reviewing how we execute teaching evaluations, and promotion and tenure reviews to identify systemic shortfalls,” the statement said.

In regards to the letter’s accusations of a lack of promotion among Black faculty to leadership positions, university leadership detailed recent efforts to provide leadership training to Black faculty through the VP Faculty Affairs and the Delphi Center.

The statement detailed several other elements of its efforts to ensure a more equitable U of L for Black community members including diversity trainings and university-sponsored minority support groups and associations.

University leadership repeated their commitment to dismantling racism at U of L throughout the statement. They said that they will demonstrate their success in dismantling systemic racism at U of L by replacing old policies with new anti-racist policies, increasing the number of faculty and staff of color, increasing the student of color population and retention rates and by expanding diversity and inclusion efforts, outreach and influence.

University leadership was clear that U of L still had a lot of work to do in this area.

“In closing, it is certainly the case that our beloved university has a lot of work to do to become the premier anti-racist metropolitan research university,” the statement read. “We owe it to our students and our community to create opportunities, break glass ceilings and be bold in our actions to be anti-racist.”

File Photo // The Louisville Cardinal

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U of L receives a record breaking $170 million for research funding Tuesday, Nov 17 2020 

By Eli Hughes–

The University of Louisville received 170 million dollars in research funding during the 2020-2021 fiscal year. This is a record-breaking amount of research funding for the university and an increase of about 18 million dollars from the previous fiscal year.

The money that the university received is used to train students, research vaccines and develop new manufacturing technology.

“It’s super important for a lot of different reasons. It enables really important work to happen and makes discoveries that help people,” said Kevin Gardner, U of L’s executive vice president for research and innovation.

Gardner stressed the real-world impact of the research done at U of L. For example, U of L  research on how environmental pollution affects cardiac health can have life-saving effects on the community. Gardner also stressed how vital it is to the university to prioritize research for the sake of the education of the students.

“Students are learning about current knowledge that was created this year and last year. As opposed to 30 years ago,” Gardner said. “When you are a freshman maybe you should learn about that 30-year-old knowledge, but when you are a more advanced student you should be in advanced classes learning about knowledge that was generated this year and last year.

Gardner went on to explain that U of L’s record as a research institution makes it a great place to invest. He said that grant applications are not easy to write, so the fact that U of L has so many successfully funded research projects should be proof of the researcher’s skills at what they do.

“It’s a great place to invest because it’s a place where we have top-notch researchers who are nationally competitive,” Gardner said.

Gardner said that even though COVID-19 is a big research focus this year, this money largely does not include money that was received for work on COVID-19 research. This is because the fiscal year ended in June, so while many grants had been applied for not many rewards had been received. The money for that research will be included in next year’s financial data.

File Photo//The Louisville Cardinal

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GALLERY: Flu shot drive finishes two week run Monday, Nov 16 2020 

U of L Health staff finished a two week run of flu shots last Friday.

Across the street from the Reynolds Lofts, university staff and students could get free flu shots every day from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. On average, over the 2 week period, over 20 daily vaccinations were carried out on participating students and staff. From the university’s press release: “All university members coming to campus are required to get a flu shot as part of the university’s response to the pandemic.”

According to staff, having a drive thru option was necessary to ensure the health and safety of staff and students and to reduce the risk of potential COVID-19 transmission.

Photos By Anthony Riley//The Louisville Cardinal

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U of L determines parties and study groups as cause for spike in COVID-19 cases Wednesday, Nov 11 2020 

By Joseph Garcia —

Positive cases at the University of Louisville have now hit a new milestone. Since testing began at the start of the semester, U of L has conducted more than 47,000 tests for COVID-19. 1,027 of those tests have come back positive.

The current seven-day rolling average’s positivity rate is the highest it has been all semester at 5%. Out of an average of 519 tests in the last week, 26 come back positive.

Over the past few weeks, cases have steadily continued to rise. From Nov. 2 through Nov. 8, the positivity rate was 5.43%, the week prior? 3.25%.

“We have determined that this spike has been caused largely by off-campus gatherings—parties and study sessions—where there was little masking or distancing,” John Karman, the university’s director of communications, said. “We want to remind all students, faculty and staff of the importance of wearing masks, physical distancing and avoiding large gatherings.”

The recent spike in COVID-19 cases has even affected U of L athletics in major ways. The Cardinal’s football team was meant to play against Virginia Tech on Nov. 7, however the game was postponed until Nov. 14 once 10 U of L players tested positive for the coronavirus. Five more team members were also quarantined through contact tracing.

Associate Athletic Director Kenny Klein updated the Cardinal on the athletics department’s COVID-19 statistics. Last week nearly a thousand tests were conducted on student-athletes, coaches and staff. Of that group, 23 tested positive.

Klein said that since testing started on June 2, more than 150 tests in the department have come back positive.

Although the second round of mandatory COVID-19 testing ended on Oct. 23, tests are still being provided to U of L students, faculty and staff free of charge. Testing is available Monday through Friday at these locations:

  • University Club: 8 a.m. to noon and 1-5:00 p.m.
  • Abell Administration Building: 7-11 a.m. and noon to 4:00 p.m.
  • Campus Health (Belknap and HSC): Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday—8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Wednesday, 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Karman told the Cardinal that testing would continue through the spring semester, however the plan has yet to be developed.

File Graphic // The Louisville Cardinal 

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“Just follow the rules”: U of L student describes COVID-19 experience Wednesday, Nov 4 2020 

By Tate Luckey — 

As of Nov. 2, the University of Louisville has conducted more than 44,000 tests for COVID-19 and of those, 878 have come back positive. That puts our positivity rate at just under 2%. For students that do test positive, the university gives them the option to return home or go into university provided isolation space at a nearby hotel.

Sophomore Claire Harmon is one of the hundreds of positive cases at U of L and who chose to be placed in the university’s isolation space. Harmon, who has an individualized major in Library Science and Art History, was living at University Pointe when she got the call that she had contracted the coronavirus.

This was her seventh test and she didn’t have any symptoms. When she first came to school this semester, she was confident she could avoid it. “Several people I knew got it at different times throughout the semester, though,” she said.

“I got the text message the evening after my test with my positive result,” Harmon said. She then received a phone call from the university the next day and self-isolated the rest of the afternoon.

“They said I could either go home or go to a hotel, but I had to be ready to go by the time he called back,” she said. “I knew I couldn’t go home because I didn’t want to infect my parents, so I chose the hotel.”

20 minutes later she packed as much as she could for the next 2 weeks and drove herself to the Marriott Residence Inn near the airport.

She was delivered a bag of food later that evening, which included primarily frozen dinners, plastic utensils, 2 pints of milk and a few bottles of orange juice.

“The drinks were my only complaint because I wasn’t given any water. I believe I received another delivery of basically the same stuff on my eighth day.”

Despite testing positive and being in isolation, for Harmon, going to classes was no issue. She continued to work as a normal student would despite the change of scenery.

“I went into isolation right after Fall Break, so I still had a couple of midterms to complete. My professors were generally nice and understanding when I needed an extension or couldn’t attend class in person.”

Harmon’s isolation continued until she was released on Oct. 17.

She said that, besides the subpar food, she thinks the university is doing the best they can. However Harmon said that communication with the local health department could be better.

“I think they could communicate more with the Jefferson County Health Department,” she said. “Getting multiple calls a day with conflicting information from both the university and the health department was unnecessary stress on me.”

Harmon is obviously not alone in her experience, and while she certainly isn’t an authority on campus safety, she did have a bit to say for her fellow peers.

“Just be honest. If you’re told to get a test, get a test. Don’t lie to contact tracers. Quarantine if you’re told to. Just follow the rules. ”

File Graphic // The Louisville Cardinal

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