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COVID-19 cases jump by 18 in one day; University says numbers were ‘direct result' of expanded surveillance testing

Coronavirus cases continued to surge on Seton Hall’s campuses Thursday, doubling from Wednesday and hitting a semester-high of 18 newly reported cases in one day.

University spokesperson Laurie Pine confirmed in a statement that the new cases were a “direct result of the University’s expanded COVID-19 surveillance testing” and noted that the spike was “not unexpected.”

Additionally, Pine noted that all of the cases appeared to be unrelated and were not a result of any of the University’s contact tracing efforts.

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Seton Hall reported 18 new cases of the virus on Thursday, which the University said was a "direct result" of its expanded surveillance testing program. (Nicholas Kerr/Editor-in-Chief)

Seton Hall has now recorded 98 cases of the virus on its South Orange campus since in-person classes began just 23 days ago.

“Our vigilance must remain unwavering as we adapt and respond to the ever-evolving pandemic,” Pine said. “And although several public health statistics have improved, the continued spread of the virus, uncertainty regarding new variants, and the pace of the state’s vaccination rollout lead us to continue to monitor the situation closely, and to call upon our students, faculty and staff to continue to adhere to The Pledge and protocols to better ensure the health and safety of our community."

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Of the new cases, 11 were detected in resident students, while another six were said to be in students living off campus, according to the University’s dashboard. The last case was in a student from the University’s Interprofessional Health Sciences campus in Nutley.

Thursday’s cases marked the highest daily count the University has seen since Nov. 13, which was just days after University President Dr. Joseph Nyre announced that Seton Hall would suspend in-person classes due to an intense spike in positive tests.

Seton Hall’s Health Intervention and Communication Team (HICT) – which has been tasked with overseeing the University’s response to the pandemic – has previously warned that the community could see a case spike after announcing it would bolster its random surveillance testing program to include all three of its campuses and non-resident students registered for in-person classes.

The University even went so far as to preemptively expand its quarantine capacity, ordering students living in Cabrini Hall to relocate to Xavier Hall so that the building could be converted to house ill or exposed students.

Cases on the University’s South Orange campus had been holding somewhat steady before Thursday, recording on average about four cases per day during February. Still, new cases have been reported practically every day since classes began, with only three exceptions so far.

Last Thursday, the HICT warned the campus community that the University could implement several mitigation steps to halt the virus’s spread among its student body – including a campus-wide stay-at-home order, quarantining parts of or entire dorms and suspending in-person classes. 

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

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