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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Off-campus trips and parties are fueling a spike at Syracuse University, officials say.

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Even as rising coronavirus cases forced other colleges to halt in-person classes or send students home, Syracuse University managed to keep the virus at bay, with only a handful of students testing positive since classes began in the fall.

That was, campus officials say, until someone traveled to a nearby city and brought the virus back to campus, where it spread rapidly at parties. Syracuse, a big private college in Central New York, now has more than 75 active cases, including 68 people who tested positive in the last four days.

The sudden rise highlights how quickly the virus can spread in a college environment, even as many students take pains to protect themselves and their classmates.

It’s not how Ava Notkin was expecting her last semester to play out. The senior said on Saturday that she was exhausted from the health anxiety that pervaded the campus, making it hard to focus on homework, exams and other aspects of college life that would, under normal circumstances, constitute the bulk of a student’s stress.

“I feel like I’m teetering on the edge,” said Ms. Notkin, 21, a marketing management major from Pittsburgh. “We’re always in this risky gray area.”

Ms. Notkin and other students have expressed frustration with students holding parties that officials say are leading to new infections.

“Everyone just needs to realize that this is not our normal college experience anymore,” she said.

Still, students and campus administrators say they recognize the desire to socialize, particularly for those who are just getting to know their peers or are spending their last year in the same city. The campus has organized a series of virtual lectures, events — “Zumba Party at Home,” anyone? — and other programming for the campus. Ms. Notkin said she had safely enjoyed the region through


Getting off-campus COVID-19 tests often easier and faster, University of Michigan students say

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ANN ARBOR, MI — The number of coronavirus cases at the University of Michigan has increased in recent weeks, and a majority of students with positive cases have chosen to get tested off campus.

It’s simpler, faster and more convenient than being tested at University Health Services, some students said.

UM updated its dashboard in late September to reflect the number of positive cases tested outside the university. Since Sept. 13, there have been 607 positive cases in the UM community with 409 of these positive cases being tested off campus.

After update, University of Michigan coronavirus dashboard shows more than 100 positive cases in last 2 weeks

A majority of positive cases since Sept. 13 were from tests done outside UM facilities, according to data on the dashboard, and students say they have had differing experiences trying to get tested at UHS.

Students can contact UHS to get tested in a number of ways, said Andie Ransom, co-lead for UHS’ COVID-19 planning and response. The most popular is an online questionnaire, which UHS employees respond to and give students a call to assess them over the phone, taking into account whether they sound sick, if they’re coughing or short of breath or talking in full sentences.

From there, UHS determines whether the student needs to go to the UHS clinic or get a COVID-19 test at the Power Center, which the university has been using as a testing site since August, Ransom said.

For some students, like Ollie Paulus, a sophomore from Huntsville, Alabama, getting a COVID-19 test using the questionnaire was easy. However, others, like Katie Furman, a Ph.D. student from New Jersey, experienced long wait times after submitting the questionnaire.

Furman had a headache, cough and shortness of breath the morning of Oct. 5, she said, prompting


Towson University student stabbed in off-campus Wednesday night dispute, police say

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A Towson University student has been treated for injuries and discharged from the hospital after he was stabbed in his Towson apartment building on Wednesday night, according to police.

Four men had been let into the apartment at the student housing complex Altus Apartments on West Susquehanna Avenue at 7:30 p.m. by the victim’s roommate, Baltimore County police spokeswoman Jennifer Peach said.

The student, 19, was inside the apartment when at 7:51 p.m. he overheard an argument between one of his roommates and the men in the hallway outside their unit, Peach said.

The argument escalated into a physical altercation that moved inside the apartment, Peach said. The unidentified student was stabbed once in the upper body by an unknown object after he and a third roommate intervened in the fight, she said.

It’s not clear if any of the assailants were also students, Peach said.

The men left the building in the direction of York Road, according to a campus alert from Towson University police. Their direction after that is unknown, campus police said.

Peach said police are reviewing surveillance video of the assault caught on Altus Apartments cameras.

Police reports do not say what sparked the dispute. Witnesses did not say if anything was stolen, Peach said.

Anyone with information about the assault is asked to call Baltimore County police at 410-887-2361.


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Police broke up a massive party of over 1,000 people at Florida State University off-campus housing

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Police officers in Tallahassee, home of Florida State University’s sprawling campus, responded to more than a dozen calls for in reference to large crowds last weekend, according to a statement from the Tallahassee Police Department.

One gathering at an off-campus apartment complex on Dixie Drive involved more than 1,000 people gathered outside along with 700 vehicles, police said. Officers arriving just before midnight were able to safely disperse the crowds with assistance from a Leon County Sheriff’s Office helicopter. The apartment complex is about two miles from the FSU campus.

The massive party came as nearly 1,500 students have tested positive for the coronavirus since testing began August 2. Florida Gov. Rick DeSantis called for “some type of bill of rights for students” that would protect them from “draconian” punishments put in place to stop its spread, according to CNN affiliate WJXT.

“That’s what college kids do, and they’re at low risk,” DeSantis said about the partying students. “And I just think that we’ve got to be reasonable about this and really focus the efforts on where the most significant risk is.”

John Thrasher, FSU’s president, appealed to students in a letter last month to wear masks and stay six feet apart, admonishing those who hosted or attended large parties or gatherings.

“The choices you make don’t just impact you,” Thrasher said in the September 18 letter. “They affect your friends, families, professors, FSU staff and the Tallahassee community at large, as well as our ability to hold in-person classes and future events and provide campus services.”

More than 700,000 cases in the state

There are at least 701,302 cases of coronavirus in Florida and at least 14,037 people have died, according to Johns Hopkins University’s tally of cases in the United States.
But Florida health officials reported 738 new