College sees spike in quarantine numbers

by The Dartmouth Senior Staff | 11/17/20 2:05am

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by Sophie Bailey / The Dartmouth Senior Staff

Even as positive COVID-19 cases at the College remain in the single digits, 56 students are currently in quarantine and five are in isolation, according to Dartmouth’s COVID-19 dashboard. The current total is a spike from the dashboard’s totals on Saturday, when 29 students and 7 staff members were in quarantine, and a total of 25 students and staff were in isolation. 

College spokesperson Diana Lawrence wrote in an email statement that the newly quarantined students are not connected to a singular COVID-19 spreading event.

According to data compiled by The Dartmouth from the College’s COVID-19 dashboard, the quarantine tally is the highest number recorded since Sept. 16, when 66 students were quarantined by the College. Dartmouth reached its peak number of students in isolation — 15 students, as well as 17 staff members — on Oct. 15. The College sets aside quarantine housing for those who have a “risk factor for exposure,” such as coming in contact with a known positive case, but have not tested positive and do not have symptoms. Students are placed in isolation housing if they test positive for the virus or if they display symptoms while awaiting test results.

Despite the uptick in quarantine numbers, Dartmouth has managed to keep its positive case count low, even as COVID-19 cases are on the rise across the country and in New Hampshire. As of Nov. 16, state data reports 3,334 active cases in New Hampshire and 17 cases in Hanover. According to The New York Times, as of Nov. 15, the average number of daily new cases in the last seven days in New Hampshire is 312, the state’s highest number since the pandemic began in March. The College has reported five active student cases as of Nov. 16.

On Nov. 12, there were just two active student cases at the College. There were eight positive tests during the week of Nov. 8, as compared to just one the week before that, and 12 total over all previous weeks of the fall term.

Students who test positive for COVID-19 are “recommended” to stay in isolation for 10 days after their positive test result or after their symptoms begin, according to Lawrence, in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and New Hampshire state guidelines. Students who have been exposed to COVID-19 are recommended to stay in quarantine for 14 days from initial exposure, she wrote. As fall term’s Nov. 20 move-out deadline approaches, Lawrence noted that some students in isolation or quarantine may be able to travel before these benchmarks if they can safely be picked up and driven home.