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Dozens of University of Washington fraternity members positive for COVID-19

By
Jonna Lorenz
Students were self-isolating in the University of Washington's Greek Row after dozens of fraternity members tested positive for COVID-19. Photo by Atomic Taco/Wikimedia Commons
Students were self-isolating in the University of Washington's Greek Row after dozens of fraternity members tested positive for COVID-19. Photo by Atomic Taco/Wikimedia Commons

July 3 (UPI) -- Dozens of University of Washington students living in fraternity houses have tested positive for COVID-19, raising concerns about the risks universities will face when students return in the fall.

The university said 105 students living in fraternities have reported testing positive for the novel coronavirus. Public Health-Seattle & King County confirmed 62 cases among fraternity residents and four among visitors.

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"It does make us worry about what might happen this fall," public health officer Dr. Jeff Duchin said. "We understand there was a lot of socializing, a lot of risk-taking, not a lot of mask-wearing going on."

The state is assessing the risks of reopening universities, and UW is working to develop measures to encourage students to adhere to health guidelines.

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Since fraternity members live within the same household, house parties could be within the bounds of Gov. Jay Inslee's stay-at-home orders. Fraternity houses are located off campus and not managed by the university.

The UW outbreak was first reported Tuesday, and by Thursday, the Interfraternity Council reported 105 self-reported positive cases in 15 fraternities. About 1,000 students live in 25 fraternities associated with the Seattle campus.

Students were self-isolating and no hospitalizations had been reported as of Friday morning. The number of positive cases could rise as hundreds await test results. The university set up a testing facility within walking distance of the fraternity houses, testing 430 students in its first day.

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Inslee mandated face masks statewide beginning June 26. Hilary Godwin, dean of the UW School of Public Health touted the benefits of masks in a video posted June 24.

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