Two cases of COVID-19 confirmed in West Quad as students move in

Thursday, August 27, 2020 - 8:53pm

West Quad confirms two cases of COVID-19 during freshman move-in week.

West Quad confirms two cases of COVID-19 during freshman move-in week. Buy this photo
Dominick Sokotoff/Daily

Two cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in a University of Michigan residence hall as students move onto campus.

Two residents in West Quad Residence Hall who also visited South Quad Dining Hall tested positive for the virus, according to a notice from Danielle Sheen, executive director of the Environment, Health & Safety Department, which was dated Aug. 26 and taped in West Quad.

University spokeswoman Kim Broekhuizen confirmed the two “unrelated” cases in an email to The Daily. She wrote that both students have returned to their permanent residences to isolate. The posting said the two students, who lived on the first and fourth floors, left West Quad Tuesday.

EHS, along with the Washtenaw County Health Department, will reach out to those who had close contact with the two individuals, according to Broekhuizen. 

“Any residents who were not directly contacted by the health department are considered to be a low exposure risk,” Broekhuizen wrote.

Broekhuizen said there have not been any changes to the move-in process for West Quad.

EHS “has evaluated the need for additional cleaning/disinfection and will prescribe as necessary,” the posting said. Broekhuizen said all bathrooms will continue to be cleaned twice a day, while high-touch surfaces will continue to be sanitized throughout the day. 

The posting listed required public health guidelines, such as wearing a mask and maintaining distance, to be followed and also asked residents and employees to continue monitoring for symptoms of COVID-19.

In a follow-up email to The Daily sent Friday, Broekhuizen clarified that students who test positive will not be allowed to check into their rooms.

“UHS and Michigan Housing are coordinating so that only students who have been cleared can check into their residence hall,” Broekhuizen wrote. “Students with a positive test will have their MCards and room keys set aside, and will not be able to check in until they have been cleared by a UHS clinician. Once Housing receives that clearance, the student's MCard and room key will be made available for pick up.”

All students moving into residence halls were sent a testing kit from the University and were supposed to test negative before coming to campus. However, LSA freshman Laura Topf told The Daily previously that the requirement was not closely monitored.

 

“We took tests, and they said to print it out and have it with us, but they never asked me for my test results,” Topf said.

Many of the University’s move-in policies went unenforced throughout the week. Resident Advisers, who are helping with move-in, have been vocal in the last week about the lack of testing provided to them.

In a town hall Thursday evening, Housing Director Rick Gibson promised RAs they would not be fired for testing positive. Gibson said if the University goes remote, RAs will still keep their jobs and housing in the residence halls.

“In the unfortunate circumstance where the University would have to move to a fully virtual format, we will be able to accommodate undergraduate Res Staff members who have a need to remain living and working in Michigan Housing,” Gibson said. “We have identified meaningful on-site and virtual work that will enable us to allow undergraduate Res Staff to continue in their role.”

In the last 14 days, 18 people have tested positive, 11 of whom were students. The positivity rate is 1.3 percent, according to the University’s COVID-19 dashboard as of Thursday afternoon.

Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough and shortness of breath. Anyone 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 Reporters Francesca Duong and Kristina Zheng contributed to reporting.

Daily News Editor Claire Hao can be reached at cmhao@umich.edu.