WKU coronavirus cluster triggered by student who refused to self-isolate

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BOWLING GREEN, Ky. - A  recent COVID-19 cluster on Western Kentucky University’s campus was the result of a student who refused to isolate after becoming sick with the disease, WKU Acting Provost Cheryl Stevens notified faculty Thursday.


Stevens delivered the message during a meeting of the Faculty Senate, which was facilitated through a video-conferencing platform.


“Last week, there was a small group of students that tested positive after exposure to a sick student who didn’t want to quarantine,” Stevens told the group while offering an update on the state of the pandemic at WKU.

The case involved two separate residence halls, Stevens said. She did not name the halls in question.


“All students from those residence halls were tested. There were about a dozen that came back positive,” adding those students were then asked to self-isolate.


Stevens credited the university’s response to the situation, adding “Our diligence seems to have paid off.”


The university was “able to contain it without much spread,” she said.


It was not immediately clear Thursday evening whether the student in question would face disciplinary consequences for refusing to self-isolate after a positive COVID-19 result.

Asked to name the residence halls involved, and if the student would be disciplined, Stevens wrote in an email to the Daily News on Thursday that she did not know. 


"As it turns out, the university hasn’t been sharing that info to protect the privacy of people involved," Stevens wrote. 


According to its COVID-19 case dashboard, 523 viral tests were performed between Tuesday and Thursday, the latest reporting period. Nine positive cases were reported during that period, including eight students and an individual who was either a faculty or staff member or an on-campus contractor. The dashboard's next scheduled update is Tuesday.  


During the previous reporting period between last Friday and Monday, 359 viral tests were performed. During that period, 16 students reportedly tested positive for COVID-19, while zero positive cases were reported for faculty, staff and on-campus contractors. 


The dashboard does not include data from the Barren River District Health Department, a reporting lapse that has now occurred for several weeks and one Stevens described to faculty Thursday as “frustrating.”


According to data the university receives from its testing partner, Graves Gilbert Clinic, however, there has been a roughly 90 percent decrease in COVID-19 cases on campus, Stevens said Thursday. Reported cases have dwindled from a weekly high of 155 the second week of the semester to now 16 cases during the latest reporting period.


“Based on contact tracing, there’s still no evidence that any cases were the result of classroom teaching,” Stevens told the Faculty Senate on Thursday. She also thanked the group for their dedicated response to the pandemic.


“We continue to encourage our campus community to wear masks indoors, practice social distancing and practice good hand hygiene,” and get your flu shot, Stevens said.

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