Lack of cooperation keeps Monmouth U. from tracing ‘super-spreader event’
WEST LONG BRANCH — Monmouth University will resume a hybrid schedule on Wednesday after a September "super-spreader event" was believed to have resulted in numerous cases of COVID-19 among students.
School officials complained that there was a lack of cooperation by students with contact tracers who tried to pinpoint where the gathering happened and who attended.
Leahy announced on Friday the university, which had gone to all online classes after a spike in cases, will resume a hybrid schedule on Wednesday after a scheduled fall break, which the president said will mean increased scrutiny of student behavior while not at school and after hours.
"As the university learns about these types of situations which put others at risk, appropriate intervention will follow," Leahy said in a written statement on Friday.
According to the campus dashboard, there are 96 active case as of Oct. 15 with 69 students isolating off campus and 26 on campus. One employee is isolating. Since late August, 242 cases have recovered.
The lack of cooperation was not surprising to Monmouth County Regional Health Officer David Henry.
"A lot of times with the executive orders, I guess people are fearful police will come knocking on their door. We're more concerned about making sure that everyone who is on the contact list is self quarantining or self isolating if they turn positive," Henry told New Jersey 101.5. "We're trying to protect everyone's health as quickly and effectively as possible."
Henry said the "super spreader" gathering likely happened in September, which is followed by a two-week incubation period when people potentially become ill.
"From the standpoint of enforcement, we're more interested in getting a clear picture of the spread of the disease as opposed to anything from an enforcement standpoint," he said.
Henry said the state provided 1,000 test kits to the school to help with testing of staff and students.
Gov. Phil Murphy has urged people to cooperate with contact tracers and has said they are not on a “witch hunt” and are only acting in the interest of public health.
"We need to be perfectly clear: this is about public health, period. No one is out on a witch hunt here. We do not condone things like underage drinking or any illegal behavior, but that is not what this is about. No one is asking questions that have any focus than other than trying to stop the spread of the virus." Murphy said during a news briefing on Aug. 7.
Acknowledging that Monmouth County is a hotspot for positive cases, Henry encouraged all county residents to keep up with the basics of social distancing, wear masks, wash hands and avoid large crowds.
"People just have to be mindful so we can get through this together," Henry said.
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