University reports three more COVID-19 infections as number of connected cases grows

One off-campus and two on-campus cases of the coronavirus were detected through Seton Hall’s testing protocol on Tuesday, according to a late-night update to the University’s dashboard. The numbers come after the University reported no new cases for the first time in six days on Monday.

The University has now reported 34 total cases of the coronavirus since the start of October, 24 of which have been detected in off-campus students, as well as two employee cases.

Of the three cases, two were identified through a contact tracing effort related to a previous case, bringing the total number of connected cases to 14 since Oct. 20. The University did not say if the cases were related to either of the two recently announced clusters in athletics and a Greek organization.

On Tuesday, Vice President of Student Services and Health Intervention and Communication Team co-chair Dr. Shawna Cooper-Gibson warned students in a campus-wide email against having on or off-campus gatherings in the run-up to Halloween after the University announced the two clusters on Sunday.

Seton Hall reported three additional cases on Tuesday after reporting none on Monday. (Nicholas Kerr/Editor-in-Chief)

“Gatherings on and off campus should NOT be happening,” Cooper-Gibson said in the email. “This is imperative to limiting the spread. Any violation is selfish and will be dealt with in our Dean of Students’ Office.”

Cooper-Gibson added that the University has “swiftly addressed violations” of public health orders but did not say if any of the violations were related to either of the two clusters. So far, the University has not said if either of the clusters were related to on or off-campus parties, though rhetoric dissuading students from hosting or attending such event has ramped up in recent days.

In Sunday’s email announcing the two clusters, the University also reminded students that despite the approaching Halloween holiday, “gatherings on and off campus should not occur,” and warned that additional clusters may force an early pivot to entirely remote instruction. It is currently unclear if on-campus students would be sent home in such a circumstance or ordered to stay in their dorms, as has been the practice at some colleges that have faced outbreaks in recent weeks.

So far, the University has not responded to Setonian inquiries requesting further information about the two clusters or what Seton Hall’s current pivot points are in the event of a wider outbreak.  

On Oct. 25, The Setonian first reported on an email from Director of Health Services Diane Lynch dated Aug. 21 and obtained through a public record request in which Lynch told South Orange Village Health Office John Festa that the University would pivot to a break housing model where students would be ordered to return home if they could no longer appropriately isolate or quarantine students. According to the same email from Lynch, Ora Manor, the University’s designated quarantine and isolation space can hold 104 students.

The exchange offers the first and only public glimpse into what the University’s response may look like in the event of a broader coronavirus outbreak among its student body.

The University also reported an additional 208 tests on Tuesday, the largest reported single-day jump in tests since Seton Hall began reporting testing data back in September.

Nicholas Kerr can be reached at nicholas.kerr@student.shu.edu. Find him on Twitter @nickdotkerr.

Author: Nicholas Kerr

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