Dear Members of the Campus Community and Lehigh Families,
We are sending this message to remind the community of our notification process and of the important health and safety precautions we all must continue to take to mitigate the risk of spreading the virus. In the past two days, we have seen our first positive COVID-19 cases in students living on campus and four new off-campus student cases. The purpose of this message is to inform the community of the actions we are taking and the actions you can take to further support the health and safety of the campus community.
Positive COVID-19 Cases
Two students who were living on campus tested positive for COVID-19 after reporting symptoms. The first student had not been on campus since Saturday, September 26, tested positive after leaving campus, and notified the Health and Wellness Center Monday evening about the pending test. The second student who tested positive was living on campus, has been relocated to isolation housing, and is under the care of the Health and Wellness Center. Those who came into close contact—defined by the CDC as being within 6 feet for 15 minutes or longer—are in the process of being notified to quarantine, are being relocated if necessary, and will be tested.
There was no known additional exposure or other contact on campus from these two cases, and we are implementing safety measures as established in our protocol for these positive cases.
All positive COVID-19 cases are investigated to determine if there is a wider campus or community safety issue. If so, an alert to appropriate groups or a campus-wide alert will be issued. Read about our protocol on the COVID-19 dashboard, which has been established for the purpose of communicating updated case information. The COVID-19 dashboard is in the process of being updated to reflect the most current case information in light of these developments.
We have seen a significant increase in the number of students requiring quarantine. Careful contact tracing has identified at least 60 close contacts as a result of these new COVID-19 cases, including cases connected to multiple athletics programs. These initial positive cases were identified in students who were tested because they had COVID-like symptoms. The close contacts who were identified have been contacted by our Health and Wellness Center, directed to quarantine, and have been, or soon will be, tested.
Lehigh Athletics has implemented robust safety and training procedures, including limiting the number of student-athletes training at any given time and participating in ongoing surveillance testing. Close contacts resulted from shared local personal travel and contact at informal gatherings, including meals. At this time, given the number of student-athletes across several teams who were identified as close contacts requiring quarantine, we have temporarily suspended all athletics training and practices. This decision will be reviewed as new information becomes available.
Wear Masks and Keep Social Distance
We share this information as an important reminder that social distancing—staying six feet away from others—limiting the amount of time we spend in direct contact with others and the size of informal gatherings, and wearing face coverings at all times in social situations, are all critical. If you remain six feet away from others at a minimum, you significantly reduce your personal health and safety risk, most importantly, but in addition, you reduce the likelihood that you will be identified as having come into close contact with someone who tested positive, requiring you to quarantine.
We are concerned that some students are not always wearing masks. The importance of mask-wearing is critical to keeping our community healthy.
We commend those students who have done the right and responsible thing by providing the names of all who may have come into close contact with them so they can be notified and tested. We want to remind the community that contact tracing efforts such as these are critical to mitigating the risk of spreading the virus on campus.
Stay Home When You Feel Sick
For those who feel sick, for any reason, stay home and, if you are experiencing potentially COVID-19 related symptoms, contact your health provider. Read up-to-date criteria on the CDC website for symptoms of COVID-19.
If you are a student, contact the Health and Wellness Center by calling 610-758-3870. Do not walk into the Health & Wellness Center without calling first.
For faculty and staff who do not feel well, stay home and notify your supervisor or department chair. If you arrive on campus and begin to feel symptoms consistent with COVID-19, immediately notify your supervisor or department chair and go home. You should contact your primary care physician first and follow their advice, including scheduling a COVID-19 test, if recommended. In addition, contact the university’s Employee Health Nurse Case Manager from Lehigh Valley Health Network, Terri Latvis RN, at 610-861-8080 ext. 21237 or Teresa.Latvis@lvhn.org to notify her and discuss next steps.
All student COVID-19 cases are followed up on by the Health & Wellness Center and Bethlehem Health Bureau. All faculty and staff cases are followed up on by our LVHN Occupational Health partner and, when applicable, depending on the employee’s residence, the Bethlehem Health Bureau.
For those who are not experiencing symptoms, our surveillance testing program continues this week through early November.
We know there will be questions about any positive COVID-19 tests among those living or working in our community.
The COVID Information hotline has also been temporarily reestablished for inquiries related to this information. Call 610-758-1500 to speak with a Lehigh staff member during the following hours:
Tuesday, September 29: 4:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. EDT
Wednesday, September 30: 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. EDT
For privacy reasons, we will not release personally identifiable information for those who test positive for COVID-19. However, contact tracing will be initiated immediately and anyone who has been in close contact with someone who tested positive will be contacted.
As a campus community, together we must take proactive measures to reduce the potential for community spread of COVID-19 on our campus and in our communities.
-COVID-19 Response Team