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WSU sees rise in COVID-19 cases: ‘This needs to stop,’ leaders warn students

UPDATED: Mon., March 29, 2021

Bryan Clock Tower glows at dawn on WSU's Campus in Pullman. A spike in COVID-19 cases among students earned a strong warning from school administrators.  (TYLER TJOMSLAND)
Bryan Clock Tower glows at dawn on WSU's Campus in Pullman. A spike in COVID-19 cases among students earned a strong warning from school administrators. (TYLER TJOMSLAND)

Washington State University students went into this past weekend with a warning from WSU leadership amid a rise in COVID-19 cases among students and staff.

“This needs to stop. Now,” WSU President Kirk Schulz, Provost Elizabeth Chilton and Mary Jo Gonzales, vice president of student affairs, wrote in a joint letter Friday. “Student gatherings and parties, which ignored basic safety and health protocols, have directly resulted in an increase of COVID‑19 cases. What you do this weekend, and for the next two weeks, will determine what happens from here.”

According to the university’s COVID-19 dashboard, there have been 168 positive cases recorded from the Pullman campus in the last 14 days, down from a peak of 233 on March 15.

As of Monday, the campus was monitoring 86 active cases, with 82 among students and four among staff.

By comparison, WSU Pullman reported 34 cases across a 14-day period on Feb. 15.

On Friday, Whitman County reported a total of 3,779 positive COVID-19 cases, up from 3,708 the week before.

Meanwhile, only one student at WSU Spokane has tested positive this month, campus officials said Monday. Representatives from WSU Tri-Cities did not return a request for comment.

Friday’s letter from college leaders warned that if the trend continues, access to WSU facilities could be jeopardized, including University Recreation and the Compton Union Building (CUB).

The letter also stated that fraternity and sorority leaders have put a hold on social gatherings and are “heightening their efforts in self-monitoring and reporting.”

“This is real. This is serious,” leaders wrote. “Our numbers are alarmingly high. This is unacceptable. We are potentially putting our community and vulnerable populations at an increased risk. As Cougs, we need to do better.”

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