The following message was sent from UHS Executive Director Jake Baggott to students, faculty and staff on Feb. 19, It is being translated into multiple languages.
The past two days have seen a significant increase in the number of COVID-19 cases among students, on and off campus – 112 positive student cases were reported Wednesday and 99 more on Thursday. Equally concerning, contact tracing suggests that many of the students who have tested positive had attended gatherings, sometimes without wearing masks.
We also learned Thursday that a highly contagious variant of the virus has now been confirmed to be present in Dane County.
As we know from our experience in the fall, COVID-19 cases can grow rapidly, both on and off campus. It is critical that we all act now to stop the spread and prevent the need for further restrictions, on and off campus.
Even with increased testing, indoor gatherings easily spread COVID-19. We understand this has been challenging during the recent cold weather, but it is important not to gather with anyone outside your household.
If you test positive, please isolate immediately and follow all public health guidelines. If you’re identified as a close contact, please protect the rest of the community by following quarantine instructions.
Everyone should continue taking other precautions:
- Wear a mask outside your room or household
- Continue regular COVID-19 testing
- Limit trips out
- Practice physical distancing
- Wash hands frequently
Campus has responded to this rise in cases by requiring students in some residence halls to test every other day. While we hope additional action will not be required, we are preparing to take additional steps, if necessary.
These may include: limiting access to or temporarily closing recreation facilities, placing residence halls under quarantine, increasing testing frequency for students off campus, and directing students to stay at home except for attending class and work.
While we are fortunate that the greatly expanded testing this semester is allowing us to detect cases quickly, testing alone is not enough – we must continue to follow all public health measures.
Finally, we ask and expect that you will continue to treat staff working on the Safer Badgers program, and especially those working at testing sites, with kindness and respect. Let’s ensure we learn from our experience last fall and act now to stop the spread. This will protect our families, friends, co-workers and the broader community.
Updated information continues to be regularly posted at https://covidresponse.wisc.edu/
Associate Vice Chancellor and Executive Director, University Health Services