Four active COVID-19 cases detected after two off campus student gatherings

Alasdair Padman, Editor-in-chief

As we approach the end of the semester, COVID-19 cases on campus have spiked. According to an email sent to the Whitman community by Peter Harvey, the Coronavirus Task Force Chair, on Monday, May 10, the Task Force detected three new positive cases within the student body and have placed a residence hall section in quarantine.

Harvey wrote, “We have identified three new COVID-19 cases in students in the past two days … Most concerning is that some of the positive cases have been linked to a student gathering.”

There are now four active cases, “one from Thursday, one from Sunday, and two from Monday.”

He provided further information to the community in an update that was released today.

“In the past week we’ve had confirmation of at least two large gatherings of students off campus,” Harvey said. “So far, four students who attended one of those gatherings tested positive for COVID-19.”

He noted that one of the students who tested positive was asymptomatic, but was detected through campus surveillance testing.

The Wire received word that the quarantined section was in Jewett Hall. This was confirmed by Harvey in an email to The Wire on Tuesday, May 11.

“I cannot confirm the specific section but I do confirm it was a section in Jewett,” Harvey said.

He added, “There have been no additional cases today. We just received notification of results from Monday’s surveillance testing and I am pleased to share that there were no positive cases in the 350 tests given on Monday.  We have also done quite a few tests on campus today as part of our contact tracing and there were no positive cases yet. Please remember it can take 10 to 14 days from the time of exposure before someone tests positive for the virus. So we need to continue to be diligent.”

In both emails to the Whitman community, Harvey reiterated the current COVID-19 protocols, which are as follows:

  • Keep gatherings to groups of 15 people or less outdoors and five or less indoors with masks and 6 ft. of distance.

  • Wear your masks in all public indoor and outdoor spaces unless alone in a residence hall room or office space.

  • Maintain at least 6 ft. of distance between yourself and others, even in outdoor spaces.

  • Keep residence hall visitors to one per room, and out of public spaces. Visitors from off-campus are not allowed.