Coronavirus outbreak among University of Washington Greek life; state sees 2nd-highest daily case jump

Officials are addressing the spread among several dozen Greek life students

Officials recently identified a coronavirus outbreak among the University of Washington’s Greek life students, just as the state reported its second-highest day of new cases.

The COVID-19 illnesses were reported among several dozen students living north of the Seattle-based university in fraternity houses, according to a statement from the university.

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At least 38 students living in nine fraternity houses tested COVID-19 positive. University officials said Public Health - Seattle & King County is leading the response, in coordination with the school, to make contact with affected students.

"While we were pleased to see most of the houses had previously taken measures to reduce resident capacity by up to 50 percent this summer in response to COVID-19, those measures are not sufficient without vigilant, daily preventative measures, such as wearing face coverings, physical distancing and hand hygiene," said Dr. Jeffrey Gottlieb, chair of the UW Advisory Committee on Communicable Diseases, in the release.

All of the Greek houses are off-campus, independent organizations, each with a respective governing board. The university does not have the authority to regulate the number of members allowed to live in each house, Michelle Ma, university spokesperson, wrote in an e-mail statement to Fox News.

On June 29, the state reached its second-highest daily increase of new coronavirus cases at 569, according to data from the Washington State Department of Health. On June 19, the state had 619 new cases.

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University and local public health officials, as well as the student-run Interfraternity Council, are reportedly engaging in an active containment of the outbreak. UW Medicine also set up an on-campus testing facility within walking distance of the Greek houses.

Washington has a total of 32,824 confirmed cases, 4,361 hospitalizations and 1,332 deaths, according to state data.

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