At least 38 students living in 10 fraternity houses near the University of Washington’s campus have tested positive for the coronavirus, the university said this week.
The university reported the new cluster of cases on Tuesday, saying that even though the fraternity houses took measures to reduce their resident capacity by up to 50% this summer, that wasn’t enough to prevent the outbreak.
“What is occurring north of campus provides lessons for students as they consider their return to campus this fall,” Dr. Geoffrey Gottlieb, chair of the school’s Advisory Committee on Communicable Diseases, said in a statement.
“If everyone does their part to keep each other safe, we can continue to engage with one another and with our studies in the University environment by wearing face coverings and remaining physically distant.”
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has warned the public of the growing trend of younger people catching the virus.
“It is obvious that we are seeing right now infections that are targeting younger individuals,” CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield said in a news conference last week.
“We may need to get out the message that young people are not somehow naturally immune to this virus, although they may be at lower risk of severe infection,” Redfield added, noting that those who are younger don’t appear to be taking the risk of pandemic spread as seriously as they should.
There are about 1,000 students living in 25 fraternity houses located in the neighborhood north of the UW campus. The school is asking that any residents who have tested positive, are symptomatic, or might have been exposed to the virus, stay in their houses and self-isolate.
None of the students have been hospitalized or reported severe symptoms, according to the school.
The spike in cases at the fraternity houses brings the total number of students who have tested positive in the UW school system to 85. Thirty-four staff members and seven faculty and other academic personnel have also tested positive, UW said.
“It’s definitely a little nerve-racking,” UW graduate Renee Ventura, who lives in the same neighborhood as the fraternities, told CNN affiliate KOMO.
“Everyone who I live with is taking extra precautions,” she added. “We’re all going and getting tested this week. A lot of people who I know who are living in and around the fraternities are also taking precautions and getting tested.”
The university’s school of medicine has set up a testing location near the fraternity houses to make getting tested easier for people living in Greek houses or apartments nearby.
CNN’s Maggie Fox contributed to this report.