By EMILY SHAPIRO, ABC News
(WEST LONG BRANCH, N.J.) — An “isolated super-spreader event” has been linked to about 125 COVID-19 cases at Monmouth University in New Jersey, according to university officials.
The off-campus event was hosted over two weeks ago, and since then, the university has reported a “notable increase in COVID-19 cases,” the “overwhelming majority” of which were connected to the event, university president Patrick Leahy said in a letter Friday.
The estimated 125 cases include people who attended the event as well as people who were in contact with attendees, Tara Peters, associate vice president of university marketing & communications, told ABC News.
Monmouth has had 319 COVID-19 cases since Aug. 24. As of Monday, 96 of those are considered active cases and the other 223 are considered recovered cases, according to the university’s dashboard.
There are also 206 students who did not test positive but were deemed “high-risk” based on contact tracing. Those students are required to quarantine for two weeks, Leahy said.
“We have had a significant decrease in active cases and the current trend line is moving in a good direction,” Peters told ABC News via email Tuesday.
Monmouth is half-way through a two-week period of remote instruction as officials work to stop the spread. Leahy said a decision will be made this week if virtual learning will be extended.
“I cannot emphasize enough the critical importance of compliance with Monmouth University COVID-19 protocols and State of New Jersey health and safety measures,” Leahy wrote Friday. “The future of our fall semester will rest, in large part, on the ability of everyone to follow these necessary protocols.”
Leahy said testing efforts will be ramping up on campus. Free testing is available Monday through Friday with no appointment needed and tests are expected to be returned within 48 hours, he said.
Staff has also been increased to more effectively provide test results and conduct contact tracing, he said.
Monmouth University is located in West Long Branch, by the Jersey Shore.
Projections released last week by PolicyLab at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) show a “resurgence” of COVID-19 in the Northeast, “where testing positivity rates have jumped and forecasts look worse for the next four weeks.”
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