By the University at Buffalo
The University at Buffalo learned Tuesday that 22 off-campus students tested positive for COVID-19 and are in isolation. This brings the total number of confirmed cases within the UB community to 27, including one employee, since Aug. 21 when the first cases were reported.
The university has updated its COVID-19 dashboard with this information.
All 22 students who tested positive are isolating according to Erie County Department of Health (ECDOH) protocols.
UB is working closely with the ECDOH to assist in the contact tracing process, and will ensure the students who have tested positive do not come to campus. The Erie County Department of Health will monitor the students who are isolating. Students, faculty and staff who test positive for COVID-19 may only resume normal activities after making a full recovery and receiving approval from the ECDOH.
UB President Satish K. Tripathi notified the entire university community of the positive results via email last evening, and advised students, faculty and staff to monitor their health.
Tripathi also urged students to avoid large gatherings off- and on-campus, and to abide by the key protocols in the university’s health and safety guidelines. These include wearing face coverings at all times, practicing physical distancing, frequent hand-washing, completing the daily health check and staying home when sick. These rules are posted via signage all over campus, as well as on UB’s social media channels and in materials distributed to students residing off campus.
“Remember, these are not ordinary times. Because of the global public health crisis, we have embarked on a semester that is unprecedented in our university’s history,” Tripathi said. “Any inconvenience these guidelines may pose is eclipsed by our greater responsibility – as members of an educated, scholarly community – to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.”
Per UB guidelines, the university will coordinate with the state and local health departments whenever there is a known, confirmed case of COVID-19 among the UB community. The university will assist the ECDOH in identifying close contacts of the students who tested positive, to ensure they take the appropriate measures to monitor their health and prevent further spread of the virus.
UB officials are also in close contact with the City of Buffalo and the Buffalo Police Department to address any issues, including large parties, involving students living in off-campus housing in the University Heights neighborhood near UB’s South Campus.
Students have been told this type of behavior will not be tolerated, and that it jeopardizes the health and well-being of the entire UB community, as well as communities near UB’s campuses.
UB will continue to educate its students on the importance of being good neighbors, as well as work closely with Buffalo Police to help ensure that students living off-campus follow public health guidelines.
On campus, student life staffers are working diligently to ensure students are complying with health and safety guidelines. Over the weekend, UB Police dispersed several small groups of students who were socializing outside of an Ellicott Complex residence hall. The students, most of whom were wearing masks, dispersed quietly and without incident.
UB’s fall semester began Monday under a modified in-person format in which classes are taking place via a mix of in-person and online instruction depending on the course.
The university will begin random COVID-19 surveillance testing of students, faculty and staff next week in partnership with Upstate Medical Center. Multiple rounds of scheduled randomized testing will take place at regular intervals (weekly, biweekly or monthly) beginning next week. Testing sites are being set up on the North, South and Downtown campuses.
During each round of testing, 279 individuals from each stratified group will be randomly sampled, for an overall total of 837 across the three groups.
“Periodic, randomized surveillance testing of a representative sample of asymptomatic students, faculty and staff provides an important metric of changes in prevalence of COVID-19 within the UB community,” said Michael E. Cain, M.D., vice president for health sciences, dean of the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, and chair of the committee overseeing UB’s health guidelines.