Multiple residents across three University of Michigan residence halls tested positive for COVID-19 less than a week into the fall semester.
One resident of South Quad Residence Hall, two residents of Bursley Residence Hall and one resident of North Quad Residence Hall tested positive for the virus over the weekend, according to notices from Danielle Sheen, executive director of the Environment, Health & Safety Department, obtained by The Michigan Daily.
All four students were relocated from their respective residence halls after receiving their results, and spaces where they were present have been disinfected.
University spokesperson Rick Fitzgerald confirmed all four cases in an email to The Daily. He said the notifications to residents and staff of affected dorms are part of the University’s efforts to be proactive in informing the community about the presence of the virus on campus.
“Public health community notification is designed to proactively make the U-M community aware of positive cases on campus,” Fitzgerald wrote. “We are following our normal protocol for sharing publicly about potential exposures to infectious diseases, like COVID-19, mumps, norovirus.”
Also according to protocol, Fitzgerald said residents and staff “identified as close contacts” of the four residents who tested positive were contacted separately by the Environment, Health & Safety Department and that those who did not receive a follow-up are considered at low risk of having been exposed.
Fitzgerald did not confirm whether these four residents have been relocated to University Quarantine & Isolation Housing, which the University’s COVID-19 dashboard shows to be at 5.8% occupancy currently with nine positive COVID-19 cases and 26 who were either exposed or await test results.
The list of positive cases in University Housing continues to grow with these four, after two cases were reported in West Quad Residence Hall during move-in week. The COVID-19 dashboard reflects an even greater total of 26 positive cases among students within the past 14 days.
These additional cases are being reported less than two weeks after the majority of incoming residents moved into University residence halls. While University Housing made modifications to their move-in procedures to minimize exposure and crowding, several students told The Daily these precautions — such as limiting students to one guest to help them move and requiring masks in common areas — went unenforced.
Residential staff voiced concerns prior to move-in and demanded increased protections for both themselves and their residents, such as an increase in testing, more personal protective equipment and bathroom sanitation to occur three times a day. Regarding the latter, Fitzgerald wrote that bathrooms in residence halls are “sanitized twice a day using EPA-regulated agents.”
The University is also a week into its hybrid semester, with 31 percent of undergraduate classes featuring in-person or hybrid instructions. The partially in-person mode of instruction has drawn criticism as well from faculty in particular. The Faculty Senate will meet next Wednesday to consider a vote of no confidence in the University administration regarding its fall reopening.
Any member of the campus community with symptoms should contact University Health Service at 734-764-8320 for a free COVID-19 test and isolate themselves. Those with mild symptoms can also use the University’s Online Assessment system to begin the testing process.
Students who test positive after visiting a non-University affiliated testing site are asked to report their case here. For nonsymptomatic students who want a test, the University has a list of outside vendors.
Daily Staff Reporter Julianna Morano can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.