Students to retest for COVID-19 after Halloween weekend raises concerns


Kate Vanni

Students filter through the COVID testing entrance Nov. 6 in a line stretching back to the Howe Library stairs. Each student must blow their nose and use hand sanitizer before proceeding to the testing area.

UVM students who were tested earlier this week must be retested this weekend due to an increase in positive COVID-19 cases that may be associated with Halloween gatherings. 

The Vermont Department of Health has requested that UVM students who were tested on Nov. 2 or Nov. 3, right after Halloween weekend, schedule another test for Nov. 6 or Nov. 7, according to a Nov. 6 email to students from Provost Patty Prelock. 

“The abundance of caution we’re operating under at this time, is again just recognizing that Halloween was just last Saturday, and students, but also others in our population…enjoyed themselves that night,” said Dr. Mark Levine, Vermont commissioner of health Friday.

30 UVM students were put into quarantine after one student tested positive for the virus Nov. 3, according to a Nov. 3 Cynic article

Another six unrelated positive results from on-campus undergraduate and graduate students have also been confirmed, according to a Nov. 4 email from Annie Stevens, vice provost for student affairs. Those six new cases have accumulated around 20 students in quarantine as well. 

“It’s a wake up call for our campus community, especially as we see cases outside and inside of Vermont and Chittenden County go up, that we’ve got to be even more vigilant now,” Stevens said in an interview with the Cynic. “We’ve got to follow this data, so if the cases go up, we’ve got to hunker down.”

Staff and faculty are also encouraged to take advantage of testing services on campus, Prelock stated in the Nov. 6 email. In the University’s most recently reported test cycle, two staff members tested positive for COVID-19

Chittenden county has also seen a spike of 134 positive cases over the last 14 days, Stevens stated in the email. 

Just three miles away from UVM, Saint Michael’s College has confirmed 70 cases of COVID-19 since Sept. 17. The school moved to fully remote classes after eight students tested positive in late October.

Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger announced at a press conference Nov. 6 that he would ask the Burlington City Council to extend its emergency order that limits indoor gatherings to 10 and outdoor gatherings to 25 through March.

However, Weinberger said the city is not currently considering reimposing bar curfews because the majority of cases have been associated with private gatherings. 

“The Department of Health has very limited indication that bars are driving this,” Weinberger said. “We are not seeing this as a lever to pull at this point, it’s not where the case growth is occurring, it’s occurring in private settings, private parties.” 

Testing services at the Davis Center will be open Nov. 6 from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m and Nov. 7 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Ella Ruehsen contributed to the reporting for this article.