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University of Rochester warns of a recent surge in COVID-19 cases

An official at the University of Rochester is cautioning people in the campus community about a recent surge in COVID-19 cases.

Vice provost and director of University Health Service, Dr. Ralph Manchester, said in a letter posted to the UR website that coronavirus cases continue to grow rapidly among the undergraduate student population.

Manchester said that this is potentially a situation that could lead to a “pause” on the River Campus and/or the Eastman School of Music if things don’t improve soon.

He said that the number of positive cases among students in the past two weeks alone is as much as the totals from the first two months of the fall semester. The conversion rate - the rate at which exposures turn into positive cases - is much higher, as well.

TheUR dashboardfor COVID-19 shows 32 positive tests over the last 11 days.  Thirty of those were on the River Campus, one was on the medical campus, and one case involved a faculty or staff member.

A “pause” would go into effect on River Campus and/or the Eastman School of Music if 100 or more positive COVID-19 cases emerge among students, faculty and staff within a two-week period, and would include:

-All in-person courses shifting to an online format

-Dining services implementing a grab-and-go only policy for all meals, with groups of students assigned a time to pick up their food

-Student life becoming pretty much restricted to the residence halls until the number of cases stays below 100 for at least two weeks.

Among the steps Manchester suggests students can do to help prevent a pause is to avoid gatherings where people are not masked and staying 6 feet apart, don’t be in residence halls that are not your own, wash hands frequently and fully comply with the contact tracing process.

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.