Seven students who live at the University of Hawaii at Manoa have tested positive for the coronavirus since Thursday and been moved off campus for care and isolation, along with three close contacts.
The university announced in a news release this morning that it is “working to contain an apparent COVID-19 cluster in on-campus student housing.”
The seven students live in three different buildings on campus. But six of the positive cases have been in social contact with each other, along with two of their “close contacts,” according to Dan Meisenzahl, university spokesman.
The seventh positive case, along with a close contact, are connected to a separate COVID-19 case unrelated to the university, he said.
It is the first apparent cluster of cases related to student housing at the university, which is largely in distance learning and closed to the public. Visitors are not allowed in residence halls and student residents may not visit dormitories where they do not live.
Physical distancing is mandatory on campus, and face coverings are required indoors and out.
The majority of UH courses are online and most employees are teleworking. Six of the positive cases have no in-person classes this semester.
“The seventh has a hybrid course, but health officials determined they were infected after the last time the class met in person,” the university said.
During the fall semester, there were 14 cases among students living on the Manoa campus and there have been 11 cases so far in the spring semester. Altogether, 1,400 students live on campus, which is half of full capacity.
The University of Hawaii has managed to avoid the broad outbreaks that have struck some college campuses on the mainland.
“This (cluster) is bad news but honestly I do think it’s a testament to our students and our student housing employees because despite the ongoing pandemic, we have really managed to keep our case count down,” Meisenzahl said.
“This is a really important reminder for all of us that the COVID-19 virus is still out there,” he said. “Hopefully we have it contained and it’s a reminder for our community to stay vigilant.”
The university is not publicly disclosing which residence halls were involved, to protect student privacy. Dormitory residents were informed. The campus community is notified of every positive case, and received alerts on Thursday, Friday and Sunday about the latest cases.
All rooms connected to the latest cases have been closed and common areas have been disinfected. Campus buildings are cleaned and disinfected daily, and high-touch areas getting multiple cleanings a day.
Across the 10 UH campuses, 92 cases of COVID-19 have been reported since April 2020, 61 of them at the flagship Manoa campus.
The Manoa COVID-19 Resource Team, made up of health care professionals, is handling the situation. Students who are isolated are housed, monitored and cared for at hotels, with federal CARES Act funding.