coronavirus pandemic

NJ College President Blames ‘Super-Spreader' Event for Case Spike

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A coronavirus outbreak at the Monmouth University campus has forced hundreds of students into quarantine, school officials said.

The university announced on Monday that more than 100 students are in isolation after testing positive while another 200 deemed "high-risk" are in quarantine as a precaution. In all, nearly 300 students have tested positive for the virus, almost 5 percent of enrollment.

Monmouth University's president said Friday the school would increase testing capacity - tests are free for students and staff - after determining an off-campus gathering contributed to the large spike in positive cases. The school's COVID dashboard shows a spike of multiple cases over the past week, almost all, according to the school, from the event.

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"It appears that this increase in cases among students was tied to an off-campus event hosted two weeks ago. An overwhelming majority of the recent cases we have seen can be traced back to this isolated super-spreader event," Dr. Patrick F. Leahy, the university's president, said in a letter Friday.

Students at the school admit knowledge of an abundance of parties.

"I have been invited to a couple but I pick and choose to make sure that everything's safe and we're under the limit," said student Saraanne Maia.

The dashboard shows a significant number of the positive students, and a handful of staff, were still in isolation on Friday. That doesn't count the more than 200 students who are in quarantine.

"I'm not surprised they'd want to go party. It gets boring just doing homework all the time," Samantha Potenza, another student, said.

Since late August, the university has confirmed 291 cases, 166 of those students were in isolation Friday.

"For me I'm taking things a lot more seriously but I think some people, they really don't care," said Maia. "I've heard of an event where someone who had the virus went to the party knowing and I just don't think that's responsible."

Monmouth University will revisit their numbers on Thursday to decide if it can go back to in-person learning. But even with that, most of the courses here remain online.

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