Summary Update on COVID-19-related Developments
Date: September 14, 2020
To: THE NYU COMMUNITY
From: Katherine Fleming, Provost
Martin Dorph, Executive Vice President
Dr. Carlo Ciotoli, Executive Lead, NYU COVID-19 Prevention & Response Team
Last week, we began ongoing testing for students in residence halls. This week, we begin ongoing testing for the first cohort of non-resident students and employees. The tests — FDA-authorized saliva tests — are self-administered.
- Please familiarize yourself with where you can obtain and return the test
- Please be mindful of when you are supposed to be tested
- Please return the test the day you take it, or return it no later than the following morning
- Remember: participation is mandatory
Positive Cases In Rubin Hall
Between August 1 and September 11, the University conducted nearly 30,000 COVID-19 tests, with an overall positive rate of about 0.19%.
Last week’s ongoing testing in Rubin Hall indicated six (6) positive cases out of the approximately 400 students living there. We have isolated all the students with positive findings and quarantined their close contacts, in line with our protocols. Out of an abundance of caution, we are also retesting all residents of Rubin Hall (and employees, too), and instructed them on Saturday to begin quarantining until at least Tuesday night. We hope to have the results of Monday’s tests back by Tuesday evening and can evaluate, in consultation with the City’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, what steps to take after that, which may well include extending the quarantine.
We have established a dashboard on the NYU Returns web hub to provide the NYU community with cumulative information about testing and positive findings, as well as information about testing and positive findings for a two-week period.
Night-time Activities In Washington Square Park The Past Couple Of Weekends
Some activities in Washington Square Park have emerged as a matter of concern. During the past couple of weekends in the evening, the Park has been home to the kind of unsafe activities that has led to the spread of COVID-19 in other settings — large crowds with spotty mask-wearing and physical distancing. Our observations were that it was less crowded and there was less activity this weekend than last weekend, and that City agencies — which have jurisdiction over the park — were more in evidence and were taking steps to address the more unsafe activities. Moreover, our sense of the center of gravity of student sentiment is that students are also concerned by these activities, which are at odds with the conscientious way they have been practicing safe behaviors.
Nevertheless, and notwithstanding that Washington Square is a public park over which NYU has no jurisdiction and that it is unclear what fraction of the people in the park during these events were from the NYU community, we deployed our Public Health Ambassadors outside the Park entrances over the weekend to hand out masks and other PPE and to reinforce the messages of safe practices. We are grateful to the PHAs for their efforts.
We will continue to directly message our students about our own health rules, and specifically about the risk of large crowds and about the unsafe activities that have been occurring on weekend nights in the Park. The Park is a wonderful resource for the neighborhood and our community, and we believe it can be used safely; we are looking forward to continuing our conversations with the City, neighborhood groups, and civic groups involved with the park to try to make sure the Park remains a vibrant and safe recreational resource — an outcome in which we all have a stake.