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More COVID Cases Tied to Weekend Gatherings Reported at UW

September 3, 2020

After seven University of Wyoming students exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 tested positive for the virus Wednesday, prompting a five-day pause to UW’s phased fall return plan, three have tested positive so far today (Thursday).

The pause of five business days was triggered by five positive tests of symptomatic students at the UW Student Health Service clinic before the close of business Wednesday. Two additional positive student test results were reported Wednesday night by the Wyoming Department of Health. Three new positives from rapid testing at the Student Health Service have been reported so far today.

That brings the total of positive tests of symptomatic individuals at UW in the past three days to 18. Additionally, two students without symptoms have tested positive as part of the university’s pre-return and random-sample bridge testing this week. And nine students with symptoms are awaiting test results.

“To the best of our knowledge, the vast majority of the new cases this week are related to two off-campus gatherings last weekend. That gives us some hope that we’ll be able to manage the outbreak and emerge from the pause,” says UW epidemiologist Brant Schumaker, who is directing the university’s testing program. “But this will only be possible if everyone follows the pause restrictions over Labor Day weekend through Wednesday -- and then continues to follow the guidance on avoiding large gatherings, wearing face protection, practicing physical distancing and taking proper hygiene measures.”

In all, there were 30 active cases of COVID-19 among the UW community as of noon today: four students living on campus, 22 students living off campus and four employees living off campus. More than half of them were exhibiting symptoms at the time they were tested.

In all, UW has reported 96 cases of COVID-19 among students and employees since the pandemic began, with 63 people recovered.

Some 72 individuals currently are in quarantine because they had close contact with infected people – three quarantined on campus and 69 off campus, including in two Greek Life houses.

The university’s Dean of Students Office is conducting an inquiry into last weekend’s gatherings -- where COVID safety measure reportedly were not followed -- with the intent of pursuing student conduct proceedings. Students hosting or attending such gatherings will be placed on interim suspension from the university and will have their campus access temporarily restricted. Students who are placed on interim suspension may not attend classes until their student conduct cases are resolved. Additionally, all students involved who attend these gatherings will be referred to the Dean of Students Office for conduct proceedings. Possible conduct outcomes include probation, suspension and dismissal from the university.

The COVID contingency plan previously approved by UW’s Board of Trustees directs that five or more positive tests of symptomatic individuals among UW students and employees in Laramie in a single day would prompt a pause of five business days. By the end of that period Sept. 9, UW President Ed Seidel will determine next steps, such as returning to the phased fall return plan or shifting to a fully virtual environment.

Under the pause plan, which may be found here, the university has taken steps that include:

-- Instructing students in UW campus housing and others in Laramie to shelter in place.

-- Delivering all courses online; no in-person classes will be conducted during the five-day period.

-- Directing all employees, with the exception of those designated by supervisors as critical pause personnel, to work remotely.

-- Suspending all face-to-face activities, unless approval is given through an exception process.

UW students are being instructed to have contact with only members of their “pods” during a pause. For a student in UW’s residence halls, a pod consists of all students on that student’s floor. For students living off campus or in UW apartments, a pod consists of those living together in the same dwelling.

UW Residence Life and Dining Services is making arrangements for food service and activities for residence hall students during the pause. Students in the residence halls who have jobs or other off-campus responsibilities are being allowed to leave for those duties.

No on-campus visits or hosting are allowed by students, employees or researchers during the pause. Most campus facilities are closed, with these exceptions: the Early Care and Education Center; the Wyoming State Veterinary Laboratory; the Speech, Language and Hearing Clinic in the Health Sciences Building; and the Psychology Clinic in the Biological Sciences Building.

Additionally, the Student Health Service (307-766-2130) continues to operate, including testing of students. And the Wyoming Union remains open for the university’s random-sample testing program, as UW is continuing its surveillance testing of students and employees on campus during the pause. All members of the community are still expected to complete the COVID Pass daily.

UW’s fall semester classes began Aug. 24 with online course delivery under the university’s phased return plan.

More information about the pause is available at www.uwyo.edu/campus-return, which is being updated as information becomes available. During the pause, the university plans to provide daily email updates on the latest developments. Those with questions may also call 307-766-COVD (2683) or email COVID19@uwyo.edu.

Contact Us

Institutional Communications

Bureau of Mines Building, Room 137

Laramie

Laramie, WY 82071

Phone: (307) 766-2929

Email: cbaldwin@uwyo.edu

Find us on Facebook (Link opens a new window) Find us on Twitter (Link opens a new window)

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