Duke students on COVID-19 lockdown for a week because of 'rapidly escalating' outbreak

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Administrators at Duke University ordered all undergraduate students to stay in place for one week to contain a growing coronavirus outbreak connected to "recruitment parties for selective living groups," according to an all-campus communication.

"Over the past week more than 180 students are in isolation for a positive COVID-19 test, and an additional 200 students are in quarantine as a result of contact tracing," wrote administrators of the school in Durham, North Carolina. "This is by far the largest one-week number of positive tests and quarantines since the start of the pandemic."

The stay-in-place order, issued Saturday, is in effect until the morning of Sunday, March 21. Duke withdrew its men's basketball team from the Atlantic Coast Conference basketball tournament last week because of a positive Covid-19 test.

'If this feels serious, it's because it is'

"This action is necessary to contain the rapidly escalating number of COVID cases among Duke undergraduates, which is principally driven by students attending recruitment parties for selective living groups," the announcement said.

"If this feels serious, it's because it is. This stay-in-place period is strongly recommended by our medical experts."

All in-person coursework, including lab work, will be remote with "VERY few exceptions," and students are required to stay in their residences at all times "except for essential activities related to food, health, or safety," including surveillance testing.

On-campus students will be allowed to socialize only outdoors and in groups of three at most, and group activities are not permitted even with masks. Dining is pick-up only.

Common spaces will be closed, and off-campus students are banned from going onto campus and are encouraged to stay home. Students returning from travel will be required to submit negative tests.