Fifteen University of Virginia students who live at Balz-Dobie House have tested positive for COVID-19, the university announced Friday. Students and resident advisers in Echols, Lefevre and Kellogg Houses were told Friday that they must undergo asymptomatic prevalence testing after three students in Kellogg and four in Echols tested positive for the virus, and wastewater monitoring showed indicators of the virus in those residences, according to tweets by the university.
Balz-Dobie is the first cluster of cases at UVa since students moved into on-Grounds housing earlier this month. After UVa identified five cases, officials tested every resident and the results showed another 10 cases at the residence hall.
UVa spokesman Brian Coy said Friday that residents of Lefevre House were notified Thursday night that they are up next for testing.
“There are no known positive tests at this time, however our wastewater monitoring indicated that there may be signs of early infection, which is why we’re acting now,” he said of Lefevre.
As part of the mandatory testing program, students in Echols, Lefevre and Kellogg were told to go to the Student Activity Building on Friday to take a COVID test.
Since Aug. 17, 440 students have tested positive for the virus, according to UVa’s COVID-19 tracker, which was expanded Friday afternoon to include more data. The university averaged 25 new cases among students per day this week, according to the tracker. On Friday, the university had 259 active cases among students and staff and a total of 490 cases among faculty, staff and students the tracker started.
The expanded tracker will have data about UVa testing, including the number of daily tests performed as well as positive tests among students and UVa employees. Data from the past week will be available to show trends. Other information such as the daily average of new cases and active cases will be available.
Dr. Mitch Rosner, the chair of the Department of Medicine who is involved in planning UVa’s COVID-19 response, explained the changes to the COVID-19 tracker during a weekly video update from the university released Thursday.
Rosner said an active case means that it was detected in the last 10 days and required isolation either on- or off-Grounds.
Rosner said the changes were in “response to our evolving knowledge and continued feedback.”
All UVa-affiliated cases are also included in the Thomas Jefferson Health District’s COVID-19 data portal.
The health district is investigating the positive cases at Balz-Dobie and contacting all close contacts, so others still might need to quarantine as well.
Students who tested positive have been notified, according to a UVa news release, and are being placed in isolation housing. Those who have had close contacts with those affected will be quarantined.
Students will be notified when it’s safe to leave the space, effectively ending their isolation or quarantine period, according to UVa’s response plan.
Once UVa identified the cluster through wastewater and individual testing programs, students were asked to stay inside their rooms until the testing could be completed. About 188 students live at Balz-Dobie.
UVa is testing the wastewater of residence halls and other buildings to detect any potential outbreaks along with other mandatory testing among students regardless of if they are showing symptoms.
“We thank the residents of Balz-Dobie for their patience and cooperation and ask all UVa community members to continue wearing masks, stay home when they feel sick, follow physical distancing guidelines, and avoid large gatherings,” school officials said in a news release.