Students at a Baylor University dormitory are required to “reside in place” after a spike in positive coronavirus cases in a campus dormitory.
Baylor officials wrote in a letter to the community that the number of positive COVID-19 cases within Martin Hall increased from five to 21 cases within three days. All Martin Hall residents on the two affected floors — about 80 of 250 students — were notified about the next steps and university officials asked students to not leave their respective floor for four days.
Other Texas campuses also saw an increase of positive cases following the return to campus in mid-August.
Two people living in on-campus dorms have tested positive at the University of Texas at Austin, according to UT spokesman J.B. Bird. Since the beginning of August, 37 positive cases have been reported at UT.
Since dorms opened on Aug. 20, eight students and five UT faculty and staff members have tested positive for COVID-19, but it is unclear how many of those individuals live in on-campus facilities or are working on campus.
The UT flagship has reported 493 COVID-19 cases since March 1 on its dashboard, which tracks the number of cases of the virus.
Baylor now plans to conduct daily rapid testing and assessment of symptoms and complete contact tracing. All positive cases have been isolated and are no longer in the dorm, university officials said. And residents on other floors were asked to not visit any of the upper floors and to contact Baylor Health Services to schedule COVID-19 testing.
In the meantime, Baylor also hopes to “tailor its response” to the outbreak without requiring a full quarantine for the residence hall. The university launched “weekly surveillance testing” Monday, which will conduct ongoing testing of 5 percent of the campus at random.
Additionally, officials reminded its campus community to wear face coverings, maintain social distance, upkeep hygiene and hand sanitizing, and to monitor for any COVID-19 symptoms.
The outbreak is just a fragment of the 645 positive cases at Baylor since the beginning of August, according to the university’s dashboard. The dashboard, updated daily at 3 p.m., showed that of those cases more than 450 are still active, and about 400 of those cases were produced in the last week.
It’s just two schools, so we shouldn’t rush to conclusions, but other schools around the country have had major outbreaks and caused all kinds of disruptions. The fact is, you’re bringing a lot of people into a relatively small geographic area, into mostly indoor spaces, with loads of opportunities for in-person gatherings. What did you think was going to happen? To be sure, if I were a college student, I’d rather be on campus with my friends and hope for the best, rather than continue to quarantine somewhere and pay tuition for online classes. As with everything else, if we’d done a better job – or, really, any job at all – combatting the virus at the national level, we’d be in a much better position today than we are. Ain’t happening with the current President, or the current Governor. Someday, hopefully soon, but not now.