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Dane County executive tells UW-Madison to close dorms

Posted at 5:18 PM, Sep 09, 2020

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Dane County Executive Joe Parisi is demanding that the University of Wisconsin-Madison close undergraduate dorms to contain the coronavirus.

Since Aug. 6, 1,044 UW-Madison students and 26 employees have tested positive for the virus.

Parisi sent UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank and UW System President Tommy Thompson a letter on Wednesday saying at least 74% of Dane County's cases since Sept. 1 have been traced to UW-Madison and the school should immediately force undergraduates living on campus to go home and quarantine there for two weeks before resuming classes online.

He also demanded the university increase testing capacity and triple the number of contact tracers.

“The University made the decision to proceed with holding classes this fall despite recommendations from local and national experts urging virtual only classes this semester,” Parisi wrote. “We all love our great University and what it brings to our community. Unfortunately, given the pandemic, congregating these students has significantly impacted the capacity of the public health system, local public health efforts, and may impact the health of our community.”

UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank
UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank

UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank released the following statement:

"County Executive Parisi and I both share similar concern for the health and well-being of UW–Madison students and the residents of Dane County. That is the primary reason we have instituted a robust testing regime – to ensure we knew about and could take action related to the spread of COVID-19."

"It’s the university’s goal to be a partner with the city and county and not unduly strain limited resources. To be clear, we have created significant testing capacity on our campus, which has had available slots every day for members of the campus community. It is also why we have hired, and continue to hire dozens of contact tracers, and have set aside more than 1,000 spaces for students in need of isolation or quarantine."

"The university recently entered a two-week period of reduced activity for undergraduates, but recognizes that cases will continue to rise among students in the short term. We will continue to evaluate our operations in light of this changing situation."

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