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Washington State Announces New Measures to Slow Virus Spread on Campuses

Washington State Governor Jay Inslee announced expanded measures to help slow the spread of coronavirus in college residential facilities.

These include limits on visitors and the number of people allowed in dorm rooms.

The decision was made in response to the rise in COVID-19 cases on the campuses of Washington State University, the University of Washington, and others in the state which reported the first national infection and death from the virus.

As of Monday, 601 students at the University of Washington have tested positive for coronavirus. This includes 294 cases at 18 fraternities and sororities on the university’s Greek row. Across Washington, the New York Times tracker has recorded 1,157 cases across 40 schools.

In total, Washington has had over 104,000 coronavirus cases and 2,380 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

The massive influx of students during the fall semester has become a cause of concern, with the University of Georgia noting that the beginning of the new academic year has resulted in a 9 percent surge in COVID-19 infections. The CDC also found that cases spiked among individuals between 18 to 22 years between August 2 and September 5, which coincided  with when universities across the country started to reopen

New Requirements

If people do not take proper precautions, public health officials warn that there may be a new wave of infections this fall and winter.

The new requirements by Governor Inslee include:

  • The wearing of masks at all times in college residential facilities, except outside dorms or house sleeping rooms
  • Only five visitors, who are masked and practice social distancing, are allowed outside of university houses at any one time
  • Only one visitor, practicing social distancing measures, is allowed in a dorm or sleeping room
  • Colleges must provide isolation and quarantine facilities for shared accommodations such as dormitories, Greek system houses, and off-campus congregate houses
  • Institutions that do not have residential facilities must develop plans for access to relevant local health jurisdictions to address isolation and/or quarantine needs

The new measures also include recommendations for establishing partnerships with public safety enforcement agencies.