SEATTLE - Several dozen students living in fraternity houses north of the University of Washington’s campus have tested positive for COVID-19 in recent days, according to a release from the university.
"This is concerning and reminds us that outbreaks can quickly spiral," said Dr. Geoffrey Gottlieb, chair of the UW Advisory Committee on Communicable Diseases, which is involved in the response to the outbreak.
At least 38 students living in nine fraternity houses have tested positive. Public Health – Seattle & King County is leading the response and working with UW to contact affected students. Positive case numbers will be updated here.
All of the Greek houses are independent organizations, governed by national boards for each fraternity and sorority.
“While we were pleased to see most of the houses had previously taken measures to reduce resident capacity by up to 50% this summer in response to COVID-19, those measures are not sufficient without vigilant, daily preventive measures, such as wearing face coverings, physical distancing and hand hygiene,” Gottlieb said.
University of Washington campus
UW Medicine has set up a testing facility on campus within walking distance of the Greek houses in an effort to make it as easy as possible for students living in Greek houses or nearby apartments to get tested.
Students who have tested positive or with COVID-like symptoms are isolating in their rooms, and none have been hospitalized or reported severe symptoms of the virus, Greek leaders have said.
UW says there are about 1,000 students living in 25 fraternity houses in the neighborhood north of campus. Residents are being asked to quarantine or self-isolate, which means that those who have tested positive for COVID-19, those who have symptoms, and those who may have been exposed but are not showing symptoms are staying in their houses.
“What is occurring north of campus provides lessons for students as they consider their return to campus this fall. If everyone does their part to keep each other safe, we can continue to engage with one another and with our studies in the University environment by wearing face coverings and remaining physically distant,” Gottlieb said. “If we don’t, measures such as what are now required on Greek Row will be inevitable. My sense is all students want to return to some sense of normalcy, so I urge all of us to follow public health guidelines so we can do just that.”
Students who live in or near Greek houses should contact the UW Environmental Health & Safety Department by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org if they have tested positive for COVID-19 or suspect they have been infected.
Visit the university's COVID-19 website for more information.