WEST LONG BRANCH, NJ – A COVID-19 outbreak that forced a two-week shutdown of in-person learning at Monmouth University has been linked to an off-campus “super spreader” event according to university President Dr. Patrick F. Leahy. Leahy said there are 166 active cases of COVID-19 at the university and 125 recovered cases from an August 24th even.
“As we prepare to enter the second half of the two-week remote instruction period, I am writing to you with important updates. All along, I have directed you to the COVID-19 campus dashboard for the latest reporting on cases in our campus community, as well as the number of individuals in isolation or quarantine on and off campus. We have recently updated the dashboard to reflect the total number of active cases as well as the total number of recovered cases,” Leahy said in a statement. “The distinction between active and recovered cases is an important one. Active cases reflect individuals who have tested positive for the virus, and are required to isolate for a 10-day period. Recovered cases represent individuals who have completed and been released from the mandatory 10-day isolation period, freeing up capacity on campus to manage future cases. While we are still seeing new cases, almost exclusively among our undergraduate students, the dashboard suggests that the positivity rate is slowing.”
Since August 24, 2020, Monmouth University reported 291 cumulative cases. Of these, 166 are active cases, and another 125 are recently recovered cases. In addition, there are 206 students who – through contact tracing – have been deemed at high-risk for the virus, and are required to quarantine, as a precaution, for a 14-day period.
“Fortunately, symptoms have been mild, but we continue to closely monitor our students in isolation and quarantine,” Leahy Added. “Since we first reported a notable increase in COVID-19 cases on campus, we have learned – through extensive contact tracing efforts – additional details about the likely origin. It appears that this increase in cases among students was tied to an off-campus event hosted two weeks ago. An overwhelming majority of the recent cases we have seen can be traced back to this isolated super-spreader event.”
Beyond the recent changes to the university’s operations and health and safety protocols, there will now be increased testing efforts on campus.
“With support from the State of New Jersey Department of Health, the Monmouth County Regional Health Commission and the Monmouth County Health Department, we are increasing our testing capacity and are now able to provide free testing to students and employees,” Leahy said. “Members of the Monmouth University community can be tested Monday through Friday between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., with no appointment needed. All specimens are being sent to the state lab, which reports a 24-48 hour test turnaround time. We have also increased staff support to communicate test results in an expeditious manner, as well as to enhance our contact tracing efforts within the community.”
The university will make a decision on the second half of the fall semester in the coming days and when to reopen, Leahy said.