TUCSON, Ariz. - High infection rates may lead the University of Arizona to tighten restrictions on fraternity or sorority houses and other parts of campus life. University officials say they may need to use tougher methods to reduce the spread of the virus.
The university says privacy laws prevent identifying fraternities or sororities with COVID outbreaks but University President Dr. Robert Robbins says one house had 10 positive cases out of 21 residents, another had 19 out of 30, and a third had 15 of 35 residents.
91 dorm residents who tested positive are in the university’s isolation dorm rooms.
Pima County Health Director Dr. Teresa Cullen says, “So these rates are actually alarming to us.”
Dr. Cullen worries about more than the risk of spreading the virus. She says there’s the risk that the virus could leave even young, otherwise healthy students with long term damage.
“There's a significant number, up to 30% of people, that may have some cardiac inflammation that's found later," she said.
Dr. Cullen says the health department has quarantined fraternities or sororities with cases.
Dr. Robbins says most students who are infected conceded they went to large off-campus parties. He says the university is working with Tucson Police to shut down off-campus gatherings that break COVID restrictions.
Robbins says the university could impose shutdowns on who can come and go from dorms, fraternity and sorority houses.
“We've educated, we've given everybody a chance, but now this has risen to the level where I think we need more strict intervention.”
Dr. Robbins even raised the idea that a private student high rise could have an outbreak bad enough to call for a lockdown but he concedes there would be a lot of legal issues in a case like that.