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Rutgers addresses increase in coronavirus cases

Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Salvador B. Mena said students should wear face masks, practice social distancing and adhere to other measures outlined in the University's community safety guidelines.  – Photo by Pixabay

Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Salvador B. Mena sent a University-wide email on Friday in response to the University’s weekly coronavirus disease (COVID-19) testing results. 

The Daily Targum previously reported 72 positive test results from last week were associated with Rutgers—New Brunswick, compared to 29 new cases the week before.

In addition to an increase on campus in New Brunswick, Mena said positive test results have been increasing among college-aged people throughout Middlesex County, according to the email. 

“We are writing both to inform you of our efforts to address these increases and to ask your help in mitigating the spread of COVID-19,” he said, according to the email. 

Mena said the students living in on-campus housing had to get tested twice before moving in and have since been tested weekly, according to the email. The University also began offering COVID-19 tests to students in off-campus housing, fraternities and sororities in early September. 

“It is this local off-campus student population that is experiencing the majority of the recent significant growth in positive cases,” Mena said, according to the email. 

To help mitigate the spread of COVID-19, Rutgers is working with health officials within New Brunswick and Piscataway to expand testing and other services, Mena said, according to the email. The University will also focus on making sure students living in the New Brunswick and Piscataway area are aware of the services available to them.

Mena said students should be referring to the University’s community safety guidelines in order to stay healthy, according to the email. He asked students to wear a mask, practice social distance, wash their hands, get tested in the event of COVID-19 exposure or symptoms, use My Campus Pass to screen for symptoms, stay at home when feeling sick and cooperate with contact tracers. 

Mena said contact tracing only helps mitigate the spread of COVID-19 if students are honest about their recent activities, according to the email. 

“Contact tracers will not share information about you, your activities or the activities of your friends with others outside of their statistical reporting requirements to the department of health,” he said, according to the email. “No one can or will be punished by the University for assisting the important work of the contact tracers.”

Students should refer to information from Student Health for more information about available services, Mena said, according to the email. Individuals experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or who have been exposed to someone with the virus should contact the Hurtado Health Center. 

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