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.”
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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 week she feared private gatherings, like off-campus parties, are now leading to a renewed spread of the virus.
School officials will consider later this week whether they can reopen some classes. The majority of classes at the 5,300-student university were already online.