5 UConn residence halls now under quarantine after 35 test positive for COVID-19 in one day

Connecticut

STORRS, Conn. (WTNH) — Five on-campus UConn residence halls are now under quarantine this week after officials reported more than two dozen individuals involved in the school rested positive for COVID-19 Tuesday.

UConn Dean of Students and Associate Vice President for Student Affairs, Eleanor JD Daugherty, announced Tuesday that 35 individuals (11 on-campus and 23 off-campus) tested positive for the virus.

She said this is the highest number of positive cases reported in a single day since UConn began testing.

This comes after the school went over a week with no new cases reported.

The cases were spread out across five on-campus residence halls, which includes 544 students in all. Those buildings will be placed under quarantine starting Wednesday at 7 a.m. and include:

  • Belden Hall
  • Batterson Hall
  • Tolland Hall
  • Middlesex Hall
  • Werth Hall

“Students living in those buildings will be required to follow quarantine procedures including testing, take-out dining from our designated quarantine dining halls, and online education,” Dean Daugherty writes. “If the quarantine period extends beyond Nov. 20, when the residence halls close for winter recess, students will receive guidance on how to quarantine at home if they choose to do so. Students who are unable to return home for quarantine will be accommodated through Student Health and Wellness.”

On Wednesday, officials reported 13 new on-campus positive cases – seven of whom were already in quarantine – and 12 new off-campus positives – four of whom were already in quarantine.

The university says, “Among the student positives, 16 were identified through 477 surveillance tests for which we received the results late this afternoon. The remainder were identified through point-of-care testing when they sought medical care for symptoms.”

RELATED: UConn closing Storrs campus after Thanksgiving break, says students can’t return until spring semester

Testing will be available to all students Monday-Friday at the Field House.

We talked to the students who have been put into quarantine. That is different than isolation. Isolation means the university moved you to an all-COVID building. Quarantine is you are in your room for 14 days straight and they bring you food and medical care.

The quarantine is only precautionary for these students until their test comes back. They are allowed to leave the room to get food at an outside dining hall and go for walks.

Even so, it weighs heavily on the mind of the students as they go into the Thanksgiving break.

Freshman Ellie Fiorentino said, “Am I surprised that our number spiked? Over the Halloween weekend? Not really, I think everybody expected people to go out and people are going to get sick if you go out.”

RELATED: New Haven health dept. raids, shuts down Anthony’s Ocean View for allegedly violating COVID restrictions, holding large Halloween party attended by college students

The university also doing track and trace to try and figure out where it came from, but their numbers are going up just like the rest of the numbers around the state

Freshman Zach Lapolla said, “Two of the people who live on my floor were sent to quarantine, so I was a little skeptical, and then Sunday morning I had an email from Shaw that said our whole floor had to self-quarantine…Two of my floor-mates tested positive and they don’t live here anymore. And one went home today; he packed up all his stuff and left.”

Lapolla said he’s being extra cautious and doesn’t go near anyone who is not in his cohort or who is not already quarantined in his dorm. He said it’s difficult but he understands it. Both his parents are doctors and they have to be careful not to bring the virus to their patients.

“If I test positive, I won’t be able to go home. I don’t want to infect my family because they won’t be able to work. I’m just worried about having to stay here after everybody else has left.”

When students return home for Thanksgiving break, they will stay at home, until the spring semester. They will take their last two weeks of classes and finals online.

Freshman Becca Alley said, “It is less stressful here only because I’m around only kids my age, but the idea of possibly bringing it home to my parents, who are older, or my grandparents, that is a scary thought!”

The university said anybody who’s tested positive or has the virus over the holidays or can’t go home, they will have a place for them to stay at the Storrs campus where they can get medical care and food until classes resume or until they can go home.

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