From our news partner, Channel3000:
A Dane County leader is raising an alarm in a letter to University of Wisconsin-Madison officials asking them to send undergraduate students home amid a spike in COVID-19 cases on campus.
Dane County Executive Joe Parisi said in a letter dated Wednesday to University of Wisconsin System President Tommy Thompson and UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank that he has a “deep concern” about the number of new cases stemming from campus increasing the probability of community spread and burdening the health care system ahead of flu season.
“The University made the decision to proceed with holding classes this fall despite recommendations from local and national experts urging virtual only classes this semester,” Parisi said. “We all love our great University and what it brings to our community. Unfortunately, given the pandemic, congregating these students has significantly impacted the capacity of the public health system, local public health efforts, and may impact the health of our community.”
Earlier Wednesday, Public Health Madison & Dane County said anyone who lives or works in the area should assume they’ve been exposed to COVID-19. Parisi had also said that anyone in Dane County should assume they were exposed in March, when community spread was beginning in the area.
Parisi said that since Sept. 1, at least 74% of Dane County’s new positive COVID-19 cases were from campus, and he asked Thompson and Blank to send students living in dorms back home for the rest of the semester.
He said that according to initial contact tracing from Public Health Madison & Dane County, as of Wednesday there are at least 46 separate outbreaks affiliated with the UW-Madison.
“Given the nature of how Covid-19 spreads in group settings, reducing numbers in residence halls will help lower the risk of additional spread,” Parisi wrote. “If the UW decides against this, I respectfully encourage you to increase university staffing to support student compliance with local public health and UW directives on and off campus.”
He also asked the university to designate more on-campus quarantine facilities, triple the number of contact tracers on campus within the next 30 days and increase testing.
“The recent surge of positive cases already far overwhelmed capacity the UW had put in place to follow up on cases. Timely and effective contact tracing is critical for isolation,” Parisi said.