Brownell Hall quarantined


Jessica Guerrucci Editor-in-Chief

Out of caution, 152 Brownell Hall residents were quarantined to contain the potential spread of COVID-19 in the building.

“This decision was made out of an abundance of caution after three Brownell residents tested positive during the past two days, following another three positive cases that were identified in the residence hall during the previous week,” Patrick Dilger, Director of Integrated Communications & Marketing, said in an COVID-19 email update.

Dean of Students Jules Tetrault said the six cases do not seem to be connected. He is fairly confident the spike in cases was not a result of community spread.

However, he said the quarantine, which was held in the residents’ own rooms, was to ensure there was not a spreading cluster of cases in Brownell and people’s health and well-being were not in jeopardy.

“We decided it was best to do a temporary quarantine,” Tetrault said, “and the reason why it’s temporary because half or two-thirds of students were tested on [Nov. 9]. It just so happened that many of them that happened to be in the randomized testing from this week were from Brownell.”

In addition to the three positive cases in Brownell, another residential student tested positive, putting the positivity rate at 2.47 percent for the week of Nov. 9 and the cumulative positivity rate at 0.73 percent.

Emily Rosenthal, Coordinator of the Wellness Center, handled contact tracing following the quarantine and said the cases were not entirely connected.

“As part of our contact tracing and investigation process into each case, we weren’t able to see a clear connection between them all–between a few but not all of them,” Rosenthal said.

Tetrault said the six students who were positive, and their contacts had already been quarantine.

Of the 152 students living in Brownell, he said 16 were not quarantining in the building and were instead in the designated quarantine and isolation space.

The remaining students who had not been already placed in isolation and quarantine or were part of randomized weekly testing, were tested on Nov. 12 and Nov. 13, the results coming in over the weekend.

Brownell residents were notified on Nov. 11 of the quarantine at a hall meeting with Rosenthal, Tetrault, COVID-19 Coordinator Erin Duff, Vice President of Student Affairs Tracy Tyree, Director of Residence Life Rob DeMezzo and Brownell Hall Director David Lee.

At the meeting, the quarantine process was explained, and they answered any questions.

Professors were notified of the quarantine and arrangements were made for the students to get food.

With case numbers rising at both the university and across the state, Rosenthal said everyone in the dorms was asked to quarantine until they can complete the testing process.

“Once we get everyone tested and everyone’s results, then we can hopefully end the quarantine and release the students,” Rosenthal said. “But at this point, we just want to get a handle on the situation and prevent any further spread.”

Photo credit: Roma Rositani

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