Bears Battle Common Cold

Kathy Logan (

Ursinus students were excited about living on campus once again this fall and enjoy a less restrictive COVID environment. However, they were welcomed by various other diseases.  It’s always an adjustment when living in close quarters, and many students have been fighting the common cold early this semester. The number of sick students spiked in mid-to-late September. Students have given the illness silly names such as “Reim Cough.” 

Rebecca Chernoff, a sophomore resident of Reimert, was infected by the virus. She attempted to withstand the sickness that initially infected her suitemates, but eventually fell sick with the ‘Reim Cough’.  Her timeline matches many other students in terms of when she began to feel ill. “I got sick at the end of September and did not get better until the beginning of October. So I was sick for about two weeks,” Chernoff said. She says she had symptoms of a sore throat, congestion, headache, a runny nose, and a bad cough. Over-the-counter medicine did not help the persistent cold. When reflecting back on how she possibly could have caught the virus, Chernoff was pretty sure of her answer. “I feel I could have gotten the cold from anyone in Reimert. Everyone in Reim seems to be sick but I also could have gotten it from my team. Close contact with anyone makes it difficult to find the source.” After two negative COVID-19 tests as extra precaution, she remains unsure of the source of the cold.

Wellness has seen the increase in non-COVID illnesses as well. ​The Grizzly reached out to Dr. Lauren Finnegan, Executive Director of Counseling and Wellness, to understand how Wellness handled the spiking numbers of ill students and to get a perspective from a clinical professional. In regard to non-COVID illnesses Finnegan said, ”Unfortunately, we have seen a number of non-covid illnesses come through Wellness so far this year, in addition to the normal seasonal allergies and the like. We’ve seen some colds, sinus infections, strep throat. I can’t say this has been above average in terms of the time of year, but after more than a year of COVID restrictions, a return to even normal levels of illness is an adjustment,” says Dr. Finnegan. And of course, any little symptom can cause students to become concerned that they have COVID. Luckily, testing has shown that the Ursinus community continues to have low COVID case numbers. 

As appointment slots filled up for the Wellness Center, the team there was not surprised. ​”There are always periods of time in the school year when colds, flu, and allergies become more rampant. We do the best we can to see as many students as possible on any given day. My best advice is to try and plan ahead in making your appointment; the more availability that you have and the earlier you request an appointment, the more likely we can get you in on your preferred timetable,” says Dr. Finnegan. 

Because we Bears live in communal spaces, it’s vital to continue fighting back against COVID and other illnesses. If you can make time for your schoolwork and other activities, you can make time for wellness. If we do that, we have a chance to keep these nasty bugs at bay. If you have questions or need to make an appointment, please call 610-409-3100 or email