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Off-campus “super-spreader” event linked to 125 virus cases at Monmouth University

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An off-campus “super-spreader” event has led to 125 coronavirus cases at Monmouth University in New Jersey, the university’s president said in an open letter to students.

Through extensive contact tracing, the rise in cases was linked to a single event held about two weeks ago, Monmouth president Patrick Leahy wrote Friday. This event was held off-campus, although school officials did not specify what kind of event it was, only calling it a “social gathering.” 

Since August 24, Monmouth has reported over 319 coronavirus cases. According to the school’s COVID-19 dashboard, only 96 of those cases are considered active, while the other 223 account for recovered cases. 

The school has not yet determined whether fully remote learning will continue for the rest of the fall semester. In his open letter, Leahy emphasized how important testing and social distancing was to the status of the fall semester. 

“I cannot emphasize enough the critical importance of compliance with Monmouth University COVID-19 protocols and State of New Jersey health and safety measures to effectively protect the Monmouth community,” Leahy wrote on Friday. “The future of our fall semester will rest, in large part, on the ability of everyone to follow these necessary protocols.”

These new cases are a part of New Jersey’s increase in weekly positive cases. According to Johns Hopkins University, the state had at least 469 new cases reported in the last seven days, bringing Jersey’s total case count to 214,097. 

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Monmouth University ‘super-spreader event’ led to 125 Covid cases on New Jersey campus

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A “super-spreader event” near Monmouth University led to positive coronavirus tests for more than 100 students and forced the school into all-online classes, officials said Tuesday.

The outbreak was traced to a single off-campus private gathering that resulted in 125 positive Covid-19 cases among the West Long Branch school’s nearly 5,700 pupils, Monmouth spokeswoman Tara Peters told NBC News.

The university would not specify what kind of event it was or when exactly it occurred, only saying it was a “social gathering” that happened roughly two weeks ago.

Before the outbreak, about two-thirds of fall classes were online, about a tenth were in-person and the rest were hybrid online/in-person, according to Peters. Now all classes are being held remotely.

“Our Health Services staff estimate that about 125 cases were connected to that event, either through attendance at the event or subsequent spreading to others by individuals in attendance,” Peters said, adding that all of those “individuals are out of isolation and counted as recovered.”

In an open letter to campus on Friday, Monmouth President Patrick Leahy pleaded with students to follow health and safety protocols.

“It appears that this increase in cases among students was tied to an off-campus event hosted two weeks ago. An overwhelming majority of the recent cases we have seen can be traced back to this isolated super-spreader event,” Leahy said.

“I cannot emphasize enough the critical importance of compliance with Monmouth University Covid-19 protocols and State of New Jersey health and safety measures to effectively protect the Monmouth community.”

Woodrow Wilson Hall on Monmouth University's campus in 2017. (Seth Wenig / AP file)
Woodrow Wilson Hall on Monmouth University’s campus in 2017. (Seth Wenig / AP file)

Leahy’s statement came the same day that Dr. Deborah Birx, a member of the White House coronavirus task force,said she feared private gatherings — and not mass, public events — are now

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Monmouth University Goes Online After Superspreader Event | National News

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Monmouth University has canceled in-person classes after an off-campus superspreader event was determined to be responsible for infecting hundreds of students at the New Jersey school.

“It appears that this increase in cases among students was tied to an off-campus event hosted two weeks ago,” Dr. Patrick Leahy, Monmouth University president, said in an open letter to the campus Friday. “An overwhelming majority of the recent cases we have seen can be traced back to this isolated super-spreader event.”

Photos: Daily Life, Disrupted

TOPSHOT - A passenger in an outfit (R) poses for a picture as a security guard wearing a facemask as a preventive measure against the Covid-19 coronavirus stands nearby on a last century-style boat, featuring a theatrical drama set between the 1920s and 1930s in Wuhan, in Chinas central Hubei province on September 27, 2020. (Photo by Hector RETAMAL / AFP) (Photo by HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP via Getty Images)

The event triggered more than 100 positive tests among students. Another 200 students are considered “high-risk” and are in quarantine as a precaution. Since the end of August, the university has recorded nearly 300 positive tests among students, almost 5 percent of enrollment.

“Moving forward, we will need 100% cooperation from our campus community in order to resume our fall semester as planned,” Leahy said. “I cannot emphasize enough the critical importance of compliance.”

The latest campus closure comes as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that coronavirus cases among young adults are on the rise and says there is an “urgent need” to address the trend.

In a study released last week, the CDC examined 767 hotspot counties identified during June and July and found that increases in the percentage of positive tests among people 24 and younger were followed by several weeks of increasing positivity rates in those aged 25 and older. The trend was particularly true in the South and West.

The CDC also recently reported that coronavirus infections among young adults jumped from August to September, with the agency concluding that some of the increase was likely due to colleges and universities resuming in-person classes.

In addition, Dr. Deborah Birx, a member of the White House coronavirus task force, said last