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These Spokane, North Idaho colleges are reporting coronavirus outbreaks

Latest updates on coronavirus outbreaks at colleges in Spokane area and North Idaho.
Credit: Pixabay

SPOKANE, Wash — Since college students returned to classes in August, multiple universities across the Inland Northwest have reported coronavirus outbreaks on campus. 

Here's is a break down for each college and how school officials are responding. 

Washington State University

Whitman County has reported four outbreaks in congregate settings to the Washington State Department of Health. 

This includes Greek housing, Washington State University dorms, long-term care and one other congregate setting. It's unclear how many students have contracted the virus. 

WSU began coronavirus testing on campus in early September. The Washington State National Guard was called in to help with the testing. 

Students can get tested for COVID-19 for free at Cougar Health Services on campus Monday-Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

A mobile testing will be also be available. Here is a list of locations:

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Eastern Washington University

Spokane Regional Health District spokeswoman Kelli Hawkins confirmed to KREM on Friday that Eastern Washington University is experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak.

Hawkins said she could also confirm that "fraternities are involved," but couldn't confirm which fraternities.

Two more positive coronavirus cases were confirmed on campus since Sept. 27, according to EWU's Case Statistics dashboard. 

According to the dashboard, 21 on-campus students have tested positive for the virus along with five staff members. Another 60 students who haven't visited campus have also tested positive.

University of Idaho

Eight fraternity and sorority chapters are in quarantine after COVID-19 testing at the University of Idaho's Moscow campus identified several "hot spots" on Greek Row, according to a memo from UI President Scott Green. 

The coronavirus outbreak appears to be isolated to fraternities and sororities, but the university will increase its general surveillance testing outside of the Greek system this week to verify, Green wrote in the memo on Monday, Sept. 28. 

The university's surveillance testing, which has focused on Greek Row over the past few weeks, noted increased viral load in wastewater, according to the memo. Some chapters have been told to quarantine by public health officials while others have implemented self-imposed quarantine out of an abundance of caution. 

University of Idaho's infection rate for COVID-19 tests last week increased to 11.94 percent, with tests targeted to known hot spots on Greek Row. The number of active positive cases is about 1% of the Moscow campus community, including students and employees, according to the memo.  

Green wrote that public health officials have not identified any classroom transmission through contact tracing.

Faculty who are concerned about the increased infection rate can teach online this week without additional approvals, though they may be required to move back to in-person instruction on Monday, Oct. 5, according to the memo.

If data collected through Friday, Oct. 2 drives the university to online instruction, public health officials recommend that this take place for two weeks. 

The university will update students and staff with more data on Friday, Oct. 2. 

In order to continue in-person instruction, the university will send a request for many of its students and employees to participate in COVID-19 testing. Those who are selected will receive an email with instructions from covid19questions@uidaho.edu.

Since the university started COVID-19 testing on Aug. 6, it has completed approximately 10,000 tests and the overall percent of positive results is sitting at 1.81 percent. 

There are currently 72 people in isolation and the university has planned for 170 beds, according to the memo.