Hundreds forced to quarantine after COVID-19 cluster found at University of Miss. dorm

Ole Miss dorm closed due to COVID-19 cluster

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Just two weeks into the school year, there have been over 400 reported COVID-19 cases at the University of Mississippi.

Over the weekend, an email alert was sent to the students at Martin Hall on campus due to a COVID-19 cluster being identified at the dorm.

A cluster is three or more people in one common area.

Anne Lea is a freshman at Martin Hall.

“I try not to let the worry and fear consume us or anything like that because it’s easy, but I definitely try to be mindful of what I’m doing. Where I’m going. Who I’ve been with,” Lea said.

Lea lives in Martin Hall but not on one of the four floors asked to quarantine in place until contact tracing is complete.

University leaders met with the Mississippi Department of Health on Friday to discuss new protocols for quarantining.

Campus officials were told once a COVID-19 cluster is discovered the entire dormitory floor is asked to quarantine in their individual room.

Health officials then conduct contact tracing to see who had direct exposure to one of the positive cases.

If someone is identified as having direct exposure, they are asked to quarantine for 14 days away from the residence hall.

“Students have the choice of quarantine where they would like to quarantine, and we encourage them to have that conversation with their families,” University of Mississippi Provost Noel Wilkin said.

Lea lives in the Oxford area and plans to go home if she is ever forced to quarantine. “That’s not an option for some, I know people who live in New York and they can’t go home you know,” Lea said.

Wilkin says the university has residence halls set aside for quarantining.

They are also renting hotel rooms to put sick or quarantining students in.

”COVID-19 has forced us to rethink everything that we do,” Wilkin said. University leaders have added counseling services, more virtual classes, and social distancing signage to help alert students to the change.

“I mean I respect it just cause like I don’t wanna get it and I think if everyone wore a mask maybe we could get out the pandemic a little faster,” University of Mississippi freshman Anna Kilpatrick said.

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