Temple University

Temple in Midst of Coronavirus Outbreak; 200+ Cases, 15% of Tests Positive

The university has stopped in-person classes for two weeks and ramped up testing

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Temple University is in the midst of a coronavirus outbreak that has led to more than 200 diagnosed cases among students.

City officials say 15 percent of COVID-19 tests on campus are coming back positive right now. The university has stopped in-person classes for two weeks and asked the city for help ramping up testing.

The Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium, volunteers who operate a mobile testing clinic, stepped in. The university and city health department are also staffing testing centers on campus.

"You got kids crying yesterday, scared, children, because they’re 18, 19 years old and their roommates are positive," said Dr. Ala Stanford of the consortium.

None of the cases are among campus faculty or staff, according to Temple's coronavirus dashboard. But so far, contact tracing has revealed that as many as 500 students may have been exposed.

The university believes off-campus social gatherings fueled the outbreak.

Philadelphia health officials are closely watching Temple, which sits in the middle of neighborhoods in North Philadelphia.

“We are very worried about the ongoing outbreak on Temple's campus," read a statement from the Philadelphia Department of Health. "We are working with Temple University every day to increase testing, and get folks who need it into quarantine or isolation."

That's why city officials helped bring the Black Doctors Consortium to campus. These volunteers usually conduct testing in neighborhoods underserved by primary care doctors.

Being on campus meant the consortium had to postpone another testing event. Still, the doctors were so concerned by Temple's outbreak that they wanted to help.

"We were scheduled to be at a church in Darby, Pennsylvania yesterday that we had scheduled with Congresswoman [Mary Kay] Scanlon that we had to cancel, but we recognize that the positivity rate on this campus is extremely high," Stanford said. "And they’re in the heart of North Philadelphia."

Stanford, a North Philly native, urged students to wear masks and maintain social distancing.

"If the students get sent home, the residents of North Philadelphia will still be here dealing with the positivity rate that the students have left behind," she said.

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