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UVM sees increased COVID cases; designates quarantine dorm

UVM has set aside Mercy Hall for students who need to quarantine.
UVM has set aside Mercy Hall for students who need to quarantine.(WCAX)
Published: Feb. 22, 2021 at 6:12 PM EST
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - The University of Vermont is reporting 64 new COVID cases this week. Sixty-two are students and two are staffers. That comes out to 144 cases overall this semester.

The school says more students are being identified as close contacts of people who test positive for COVID-19. In the fall, it averaged about two or three. Now, it’s about five.

To address the steady increase, they’ve designated Mercy Hall as their quarantine dorm. This week, 60 underclassmen students are moving out, so students who need to quarantine or isolate can move in.

UVM Vice President Gary Derr says they chose Mercy Hall because it’s close to student health services and there weren’t as many students living there compared to other residence halls.

Derr says Mercy Hall students agreed to move and were not charged to do so and they’re being assisted in their relocation to another spot on campus.

Derr says there are 75 single rooms in Mercy Hall which will likely be available for quarantine and isolation come Thursday.

“That will give us additional capacity for quarantine in case we see that go up. It’s kind of a reserve but it gives us that type of space that we need in the event of, so if we suddenly had a situation where we had a large number of people that we needed to quarantine, we need to have that ready to go. And now I think we’re ready to go with that by the end of this week,” Derr said.

Derr also says any student who is caught violating the green and gold pledge and hosting a gathering of any kind will face punishment, including suspension.

I also asked Derr under what circumstances would the university return to fully remote status. He said he doesn’t anticipate that happening because of UVM’s ability to manage and test 12,000 students a week through their surveillance testing program. He says he believes the university has a good handle of cases on campus.

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