The University of Washington might reopen in-person in the fall, with larger classes held virtually, but plans could change based on the spread of the coronavirus. (Sue Misao / Herald file)

The University of Washington might reopen in-person in the fall, with larger classes held virtually, but plans could change based on the spread of the coronavirus. (Sue Misao / Herald file)

80 UW students in frat houses test positive for coronavirus

Public health officials have noticed a spike in cases among people ages 18 to 20.

Associated Press

SEATTLE — At least 80 students living in a dozen fraternity houses near the University of Washington campus have reported testing positive for COVID-19, with hundreds of results pending.

The university learned Saturday that three fraternity residents had symptoms of COVID-19, and public health officials noticed a spike in cases among people ages 18 to 20, according to university spokeswoman Michelle Ma. By Tuesday, the university said at least 38 students tested positive, The Seattle Times reported.

Ma said more than 800 students have been tested since Monday in response to the Greek system outbreak. The university expects to have an updated case count early next week.

Experts say the outbreak, along with cases among student athletes, is a troubling sign of what may be in store if colleges reopen in the fall. University of Washington leadership said this week they hope to reopen in-person, with larger classes held virtually, but that plans could change based on the virus’s spread.

Daniel Leifer, a pediatrician studying dermatology at UW, estimates he saw about a dozen parties when walking by Greek Row in recent months. Students stood close together, and masks were nowhere to be seen, he said.

The Interfraternity Council, a student-run governing board, has asked fraternity houses to stop holding social events, Ma said.

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