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Monmouth, Iona College see coronavirus outbreaks due to ‘super-spreader events’

Dozens of students entered isolation after “super-spreader events” were blamed for COVID-19 outbreaks at Monmouth University and Iona College this week. 

Photo via Zeete:Wikimedia Commons

Monmouth, in West Long Branch, New Jersey, and Iona College in New Rochelle, New York, where Seton Hall University President Joseph Nyre served as president from 2011 to 2019, have both moved classes to remote learning temporarily as a result of upticks in coronavirus cases.

Monmouth University now has 166 active COVID-19 cases in the campus community, bringing the total number of cases since Aug. 24 to 291, Monmouth President Patrick Leahy wrote in a letter to students on Monday.

“Since we first reported a notable increase in COVID-19 cases on campus, we have learned— through extensive contact tracing efforts—additional details about the likely origin,” Leahy wrote. “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.”

At Iona College, at least 74 cases are still active with students in isolation, according to the College’s COVID-19 dashboard.

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Many cases at the College, which saw only a handful of cases before the current outbreak, were traced back to an event held by athletic teams.

“Late last week, Iona’s surveillance testing identified an uptick in positive COVID-19 cases among certain athletic teams,” Iona President Seamus Carey said in a statement. “At this point, contact tracing indicates that the virus was transmitted through a single, isolated event and is not indicative of a broader spread on campus.”

Iona, a Catholic school with an undergraduate student population of approximately 3,000, has issued 5,200 tests this semester, according to the dashboard. Seton Hall, with more than double the undergraduate population, issued 2,515 tests as of Oct. 12.

Monmouth’s dashboard does not include how many tests have been administered by the University but states that the total number of cases among students and staff both on and off campus is 323.

Monmouth University entered a two-week remote instruction period on Oct. 5, following an increase of COVID activity on campus. All classes except for labs and clinicals were moved online. 

The two-week period will be followed immediately by a fall break, during which President Leahy urged students not to travel in a statement on Oct. 2.  

“In order to get ahead of the curve on the coronavirus, we need 100 percent compliance,” Leahy said. “We are all in this fight together.”

Daniel O’Connor can be reached at Find him on Twitter @ItsDanOConnor


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