Mount St. Mary’s University reports 20 positive cases of COVID-19

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EMMITSBURG, Md. (WDVM) — Mount St. Mary’s University is reporting 20 cases of COVID-19 on campus. Half of those cases can be traced to one residence hall.

As of Friday afternoon, 19 students and one staff member have tested positive for the coronavirus and are currently in isolation, according to Director of Public Relations & Communications for the Mount, Donna Klinger. 

Students in isolation continue to learn online and receive food deliveries. 

The school year began with twelve confirmed cases as students on campus were tested. The university says the number of positive test results has remained between 10 and 20 in the five weeks since students arrived.  

To date, the university has performed 2,269 tests, Klinger said. 

“The tricky part for pretty much all universities is that most cases of these cases are asymptomatic, so being able to identify these asymptomatic cases before it becomes a problem,” said Klinger.
In an effort to idenitfy cases, the university is testing the wastewater from all 12 on-campus residence halls. 

“You can test wastewater for the genetic marker, the genetic RNA marker of the coronavirus. We have testing on each of the dormitories and we’re able to see a hot spot that may arise. It has only happened once as this point,” said Klinger.

Klinger says recent testing turned up the university’s first hot spot—a first-year student residence hall. Earlier this week, the 221 students in the residence hall were tested. Results showed that ten student residents were positive with COVID-19. Klinger adds that nine of those students are asymptomatic. 

“If we hadn’t done that testing, those students would have been possibly infecting others and we would have had a much larger outbreak,” said Klinger.

Overall, the university is reporting a one percent positivity rate and operating at a level one phase, “which is a low-level risk,” explained Klinger.

“If the number of cases rise more, we’d get into a level two which is a moderate-risk level. We would have to look at things like going back on athletic practices. We’re taking a careful approach and monitoring as we go along,” Klinger explained. 

Residence hall wastewater will continue to be tested once a week. 

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