Dane Co. official asks UW Madison to send undergraduate students home amid spike in COVID-19 cases


MADISON, Wis. (WFRV) – A Dane County official is asking UW Madison to send undergraduate students home amid a spike in coronavirus cases on campus.

Earlier this week, UW Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank directed all undergraduate students to “restrict their movements over the next two weeks in order to reverse the recent rise in COVID-19 cases.”

According to affiliate WISC, Dane County Executive Joe Parisi sent a letter to Chancellor Blank, saying he has a “deep concern” about the number of new cases stemming from campus. He says those cases increase the probability of community spread and burden the health care system ahead of flu season.

“The University made the decision to proceed with holding classes this fall despite recommendations from local and national experts urging virtual-only classes this semester. We all love our great University and what it brings to our community. Unfortunately, given the pandemic, congregating these students has significantly impacted the capacity of the public health system, local public health efforts, and may impact the health of our community.”

Parisi said that since Sept. 1, at least 74% of Dane County’s new positive COVID-19 cases were from campus, and he asked Interim UW System President Tommy Thompson and Blank to send students living in dorms back home for the rest of the semester, according to WISC.

Read Parisi’s full letter here:

In early September, UW Madison and Public Health Madison & Dane County directed members of nine fraternities and sororities with off-campus live-in chapter houses to quarantine for at least 14 days in response to nearly 40 confirmed cases among their members.

He adds that according to initial contact tracing from Public Health Madison & Dane County, as of Wednesday there are at least 46 separate outbreaks affiliated with the UW-Madison.

“Given the nature of how Covid-19 spreads in group settings, reducing numbers in residence halls will help lower the risk of additional spread,” Parisi wrote. “If the UW decides against this, I respectfully encourage you to increase university staffing to support student compliance with local public health and UW directives on and off campus.”

On the west side of the state, UW-Eau Claire says nearly 70 students have tested positive for COVID-19, causing six residence hall wings to be placed into full quarantine, affecting 184 students. While they are not ill or showing symptoms, these students must remain in their rooms for 14 days.

Since August 31, UW Milwaukee has reported 24 student cases of COVID-19 on its Milwaukee campus while UW Green Bay has reported three positive cases.

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