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Dane County asks UW-Madison to send undergrads who live in dorms home

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MADISON (WKOW) — Due to the rise in COVID-19 cases on the UW-Madison campus, Dane County Executive Joe Parisi today is asking university officials to require undergraduates living in residence halls to move back home for the rest of this semester.

Since Sept. 1, at least 74% of Dane County’s new COVID-19 positive cases were from the UW, Parisi said in his letter.

According to initial contact tracing from Public Health Madison/Dane County, as of today there are at least 46 separate outbreaks affiliated with the UW-Madison Parisi said.

Here’s what Dane County is requesting:

  1. Require undergraduates living in residence halls to move back home for the rest of this semester. Undergrads could return to their respective communities and quarantine there for 14 days to minimize new spread in their hometowns. The University could offer online learning for these students to participate in from their private homes. Given the nature of how Covid-19 spreads in group settings, reducing numbers in residence halls will help lower the risk of additional spread. If the UW decides against this, Parisi encourages the university to increase university staffing to support student compliance with local public health and UW directives on and off campus.
  1. Establish more on-campus quarantine facilities. As positive cases continue, sending people with COVID-19 back into group living situations off campus only perpetuates the spread of illness. UW needs to support additional quarantine centers especially for students living in off-campus housing.
  1. Triple the number of UW Madison contact tracers within the next 30 days. While Parisi says he appreciates the commitment and promise of UW Madison to support contact tracing for UW Madison students, the recent surge of positive cases already far overwhelmed capacity the UW had put in place to follow up on cases. Timely and effective contact tracing is critical for isolation. Dane County will soon have over 100 contact tracers to support what they anticipate could be a challenging fall season for COVID-19. Public Health has continued to add staff as this pandemic has evolved. It’s clear the University needs to increase its capacity to support contact tracing for students as soon as practically possible
  1. Increase testing capacity on the UW campus. For example, on Sept. 8 a quarter of AEC tests were from students – the vast majority from UW. Most reported that they couldn’t get an appointment for a test at UW because University Health Services was “booked up.” If this pattern is sustained, this equates to at least $300,000 in daily test kit costs alone. The UW needs to bolster its ability to conduct tests immediately.
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