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Coronavirus cases continue to grow as University warns multiple mitigation steps remain on table

The Health Intervention and Communication Team (HICT) warned students on Thursday that Seton Hall could implement several different mitigation steps to stop the growth of coronavirus cases on the South Orange campus. 

The message, which the University delivered in a mass email from HICT co-chairs Dr. Shawna Cooper-Gibson and Matthew Borowick (’89), acknowledged that the trend of cases during the spring semester has been higher than the fall semester, in which 191 cases of the virus were recorded.

Since the start of January, Seton Hall has recorded 72 cases of the virus -- with nearly half of that number coming in the last seven days -- and has cautioned that cases may continue to rise after expanding its COVID-19 surveillance testing program on Feb. 9. 

Earlier this week, the University announced that it would force Cabrini Hall residents to relocate to Xavier Hall so that the building can serve as additional quarantine and isolation space in preparation for a potential spike in cases. 

“Higher education throughout the nation has been hard hit. There are reports of ‘dorm lockdown’ at some schools. Others have tightened social distancing requirements, or shifted to remote learning, or restricted off-campus travel,” the email read. “A couple have reportedly banned outdoor exercising.”

Cooper-Gibson and Borowick noted that Seton Hall’s measures could include “quarantine for parts of or entire residence halls, pausing in-person social programs or academic instruction, or making a campus-wide stay at home declaration,” though did not mention at what point the University may decide to take such actions. 

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In November, Seton Hall placed the second floor of Aquinas Hall, a first-year student dormitory, under a 72-hour mandatory quarantine after two students from the floor tested positive for COVID-19. 

Students were prohibited from leaving their rooms except to access the bathroom and had meals delivered to them to accommodate the order.

So far, the University has detected 33 cases of COVID-19 in resident students and 37 cases in students who live off campus since Jan. 1. So far, the HICT dashboard has not indicated how many, if any, of the cases are related. 

Nicholas Kerr can be reached at Find him on Twitter @nickdotkerr.


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