WEST LONG BRANCH – More than 100 active cases were reported at Monmouth University after a "superspreader" event, the university announced this weekend.
Since first reporting a notable increase in COVID-19 cases on campus, the university has learned – through extensive contact tracing efforts – about the likely origin, said President Patrick F. Leahy.
The increase in cases among students was tied to an off-campus event hosted two weeks ago, Leahy said.
"An overwhelming majority of the recent cases we have seen can be traced back to this isolated superspreader event," he said. He did not provide further details.
Moving forward, Leahy said, the college needs 100 percent cooperation from the campus community "in order to resume our fall semester as planned."
"I cannot emphasize enough the critical importance of compliance with Monmouth University COVID-19 protocols and state of New Jersey health and safety measures to effectively protect the Monmouth community," Leahy wrote in a letter to the community. "The future of our fall semester will rest, in large part, on the ability of everyone to follow these necessary protocols."
Leahy provided the news as he updated the college community on the number of people in isolation or quarantine on and off campus.
The university's dashboard, he says, reflects the total number of active cases as well as the total number of recovered cases.
The distinction between active and recovered cases is an important one, he says. Active cases reflect individuals who have tested positive for the virus, and are required to isolate for a 10-day period.
Recovered cases represent individuals who have completed and been released from the mandatory 10-day isolation period, freeing up capacity on campus to manage future cases.
"While we are still seeing new cases, almost exclusively among our undergraduate students, the dashboard suggests that the positivity rate is slowing," he said.
Since Aug. 24, Monmouth has reported 291 cumulative cases. Of these, 166 are active cases, and another 125 are recently recovered cases, he said.
In addition, there are 206 students who – through contact tracing – have been deemed at high-risk for the virus, and are required to quarantine as a precaution for a 14-day period.
"Fortunately, symptoms have been mild, but we continue to closely monitor our students in isolation and quarantine," Leahy said
Beyond the recent changes to operations and health and safety protocols, Monmouth will be increasing testing efforts on campus, he said. The college will be increasing its testing capacity and is now able to provide free testing to students and employees.
Members of the Monmouth University community can be tested Monday through Friday between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., with no appointment needed. All specimens are being sent to the state lab, which reports a 24-48 hour test turnaround time.