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Friday, March 5, 2021

Three More at UD Test Positive for Coronavirus; Legislature Postpones Session

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The Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH) announced today that three additional members of University of Delaware‘s community — two graduate students and a postdoctoral researcher — have tested positive for the COVID-19 coronavirus.
 
All three individuals are under the age of 30 and had close contact at an off-campus social event in February with the UD faculty member who tested positive for the deadly virus on Wednesday.
 
As with that individual, DPH says the three new individuals are not severely ill and are currently self-isolated at home. Epidemiologists from DPH are working with the patients to identify any close contacts of these individuals who were possibly exposed.
 
If other people are found to have possibly been exposed, state health officials will provide guidance to these individuals and monitor them closely for the development of symptoms.
 
 
 
 
In a message to the UD Community, President Dennis Assanis said two of the affected individuals were graduate students and one is a postdoctoral researcher.  All three had “close contact at an off-campus social event in February with the faculty member who tested positive on Wednesday.”
 
UD announced yesterday it would be moving up spring break to begin this weekend and then take all classes online indefinitely.
 
“We understand that news of additional cases is concerning to students, staff, and families in the University of Delaware community,” said DPH Director Dr. Karyl Rattay. “However, DPH is working closely with the administration at the University of Delaware on their coronavirus disease response.” 
 
 
Meanwhile, House Speaker Pete Schwartzkopf and Senate President Pro Tempore David McBride announced they have decided to postpone resumption of the legislative session next week. The legislature was scheduled to return from its break for Joint Finance Committee hearings on March 17, but the spread of COVID-19 and recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control, the World Health Organization, and Delaware public health officials prompted this proactive decision.
 
The legislature will be postponed until at least March 24, but the leaders say that could change.  Approximately 600 people — staff, legislators, lobbyists, press and members of the public — visit Legislative Hall on an average session day.  This exceeds the 250-person guideline recommended by public health officials. Experts also are recommending that people practice social distancing, which is a difficult proposition in a building such as Legislative Hall.  The building itself will be closed to the public until further notice.
 
The complete text of Dr. Assanis’ message is below:

Dear UD Community,

Today we were notified by the Delaware Division of Public Health that three additional members of UD’s Newark campus community – two graduate students and a postdoctoral researcher – have tested positive for the COVID-19 coronavirus. All three had close contact at an off-campus social event in February with the faculty member who tested positive on Wednesday. All four individuals are receiving appropriate medical care in a quarantined environment, and the entire UD community wishes them a full and speedy recovery.

The University continues to work closely with the Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH) to track students, faculty and staff who were in contact with the individuals who have tested positive for coronavirus. Members of our community who may have had close contact with them will be notified and evaluated by DPH. In addition, any University spaces that may have been impacted are being disinfected. Regardless of whom you have been in contact with, anyone displaying COVID-19 symptoms of fever, cough or shortness of breath should self-quarantine and seek immediate medical care. This protocol will be in place for any future cases that may arise.

I realize this news may be distressing as the number of cases nationally continues to increase. Please know that our leadership team is meeting continually to evaluate this changing situation in order to make decisions that are informed by guidance from state and national health officials. All of our decisions are focused on the health and safety of our campus environment as a top priority. And operationally, we will do everything we can to maintain our students’ academic continuity and progress so that we can return to the daily rhythm of University life as soon as possible.

 

The coronavirus situation continues to change quickly. The most current information pertaining to UD will be posted to the University’s coronavirus website, udel.edu/coronavirus, which includes FAQs covering common topics. Additional questions may be emailed to coronavirus@udel.edu. The COVID-19 Call Center at UD, available at 302-831-1188, will be open until 8 pm today; normal hours are 9 am to 5 pm weekdays.

All members of the UD community are asked to practice good personal hygiene, maintain a healthy social distance from others and seek medical care if they feel ill. Students experiencing symptoms should call Student Health Services at 302-831-2226 to discuss their symptoms before visiting in person so they can be directed to the most appropriate care. Faculty and staff who feel sick should contact their own medical provider.

Please know that at the University of Delaware, we are committed to caring for the health and wellbeing of all members of our community. I want to sincerely thank you for your continued patience and cooperation as we navigate this unprecedented situation together. 

Sincerely,

Dennis Assanis

 

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