The University of New Hampshire (UNH) has experienced a spike in coronavirus (COVID-19) cases within the last week.
The university reported 23 positive cases on Aug. 23, 30 reported cases as of Aug. 27, and to a new high of 44 cases as of Sunday, Aug. 30.
Some of these numbers are result of a positive case in a UNH affiliated fraternity and sorority house, whose live-in members are now in quarantine for 14 days.
In addition, a positive test from a non-student patron at a Durham bar the previous weekend has forced multiple students to quarantine.
These cases are dispersed between the UNH Durham, Concord, and Manchester campuses. However, Durham is the only campus to experience an uptick in cases. The University of New Hampshire’s main campus has seen positive tests rise from 19 to 37 within a week.
UNH Law in Concord has maintained only two positive cases since UNH began reporting testing, while UNH Manchester has yet to have a single positive case.
The uptick in cases at the Durham campus comes one week after a reported Aug. 24 off-campus party with approximately 50 students, where now Senior Vice Provost of Student Life and Dean of Students Kenneth Holmes chastised students for participating three days after the alleged party.
UNH had struggled to enforce social distancing and mask protocol at a university sanctioned ice cream social and fire hosted by the Department of Residential Life. The event exceeded its set capacity of 25 students, with many not wearing masks, as reported by Shawn Latulippe of The New Hampshire. After the event made local headlines for no social distancing, UNH announced their plans for moving forward with events.
UNH has also nearly doubled its testing capacity within the last week. As of Aug. 22, UNH had tested 8,509 students, faculty and staff among its three campuses.
As of Aug. 30, UNH has tested 25,240 students, faculty and staff at its three campuses.
The rate of positive cases as of Aug. 22 was .27% of tests returning positive. As of Aug. 30, that rate has dropped to .17%.
Though the raw number of positive cases has continued to rise, the percentage when compared to testing has steadily declined.
In response to this uptick in cases, UNH Chief of Police Paul Dean addressed students in an email on Tuesday.
Dean urged students to update their WildcatPass, as the temporary override is set to expire permanently, as it is the most effective way for the University to perform contact tracing and quickly reach students.
Students are also encouraged to contact Health and Wellness should they believe they were a close contact with a presumed positive and have yet to be contacted by the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (NH DHHS).
The university is continuing to work with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and NH DHHS in order to limit the spread of COVID-19 on its campuses and has followed protocol in order to ensure a safe and equitable semester.
Despite these efforts, the university has not provided a threshold of positive cases that must be reached within a certain period before transitioning back to remote operations.