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U.Va. reports possible COVID-19 outbreak in Echols, Kellogg dorms

This marks the third and fourth time the University has detected a potential outbreak in the last 48 hours

<p>Echols and Kellogg are the fourth dorms to undergo mandatory testing in the last 48 hours.</p>

Echols and Kellogg are the fourth dorms to undergo mandatory testing in the last 48 hours.

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UPDATE (Sept. 18, 5:45 p.m.): University spokesperson Brian Coy confirmed that there was one additional case reported at the Echols dorm after the email notice to residents went out, bringing the total number of cases to four.

UPDATE (Sept. 19, 12:06 p.m.): Two additional cases of COVID-19 were identified at the Echols dorm and seven additional cases were identified at the Kellogg dorm following yesterday's testing. In total, six cases of COVID-19 were found in Echols and 11 in Kellogg. 

All residents of the Echols and Kellogg first-year residence halls will be required to participate in mandatory COVID-19 testing, per an email sent to residents Friday afternoon. There are currently four positive cases of COVID-19 in the Echols dorm and three positive cases in the Kellogg dorm, with wastewater indicators also suggesting a possible infection. 

A testing team will go door-to-door to conduct the nasopharyngeal tests starting at 4:30 p.m. Friday. Residents of both residence halls have been asked to quarantine while they await test results, and food will be delivered to residents tonight and tomorrow. Echols houses 117 residents, while Kellogg houses 161 — all first-year students and Resident Advisors.

“You will need to remain in your room except when retrieving meals or using the bathroom,” the email reads. “Please wear your masks at all times, including in the hallway and in your room, except when you are sleeping or eating.”

In an email to The Cavalier Daily, University spokesperson Brian Coy said that resident staff in both Echols and Kellogg will be tested. Additionally, Coy said the University is working with Facilities Management to identify staff who have worked in these buildings recently in order to offer them a test.

“As we have said many times, the University expects there to be positive cases within our community,” Coy said. “Our wastewater testing program, along with the tests that we are conducting in these residence halls, are part of our plan to detect cases as early as possible so that we can respond quickly and prevent the spread of the virus within our community.”

The additional cases in student housing follow emails sent in the last 48 hours to residents of both the Lefevre and Balz-Dobie first-year dorms, marking the third and fourth reported instances of a possible outbreak. Balz-Dobie test results revealed 10 additional cases of the virus — making a total of 15, in addition to five previously confirmed cases.

There were no confirmed cases in Lefevre, but the University told residents on Thursday that wastewater indicators caused the dormitory to be selected for asymptomatic prevalence testing in the Student Activities Building on Friday. 

In an email to residents Friday afternoon, the University said that Balz-Dobie residents who have not been moved to quarantine and isolation housing can resume normal activities on Grounds and asked students not to stigmatize those with positive test results. 

“Now, more than ever, we should treat each other with kindness and compassion,” the email reads. 

While students are permitted to go home, the email encourages residents to “carefully consider” the possible risks of doing so from a public health perspective. 

“Even if you have not been identified as a significant contact, there is still a low risk that you may have been exposed,” the email reads. “Going to another location may potentially expose other people and other communities.”

The University is monitoring the wastewater from residence halls in an effort to detect an outbreak of COVID-19. Additionally, the University began its new population testing plan this week, which requires anywhere from 50 to 150 students to participate in COVID-19 testing daily at the Student Activities Building in an effort to prevent the asymptomatic spread of the virus. 

As of Friday, the University’s COVID-19 Tracker reports 490 positive cases of COVID-19 among the University community, 440 of which are students. 250 student cases are active, meaning that they have been reported within the last 10 days. These numbers do not include test results for the Echols and Kellogg dorms, which will be available in 24 to 48 hours. 

60 new cases were reported in the University community Thursday, 58 of which were student cases.

The new iteration of the University’s COVID Tracker now includes the number of tests that were performed in a day — as well as the number of positive tests — and daily averages of new cases. This week there were an average of 25 new student cases per day, compared to averages of 19 per day last week, 14 the previous week and 11 three weeks ago. Last week, the University conducted 1,630 tests, and 143 came back positive — a positivity rate of approximately 8.8 percent.

According to the tracker, 19 percent of quarantine rooms and one percent of isolation rooms are occupied. On-Grounds students who have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 are sent to quarantine housing, while students who have tested positive are in isolation housing.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.