UW-Madison investigating 450 students, 9 student orgs for public health violations

Dean of students: 'Intentionally contracting COVID 'to get it over with' is unsafe and irresponsible'

MADISON, Wis. — The University of Wisconsin-Madison said it is investigating hundreds of students and a handful of student organizations on suspicion of public health violations, according to an email sent to students Friday afternoon.

Dean of Students Christina Olstad wrote that the university has completed or is currently investigating nearly 450 students and 9 student organizations for public health violations. Fourteen of the 450 students were referred for emergency suspension.

“If a student repeatedly or intentionally violates the university’s public health expectations, there are real consequences that could affect their academic future,” Olstad said.

She also cautioned students against intentionally exposing themselves to the virus.

“I also want to address a concerning belief we’ve been hearing – intentionally contracting COVID to ‘get it over with’ is unsafe and irresponsible,” Olstad wrote. “While students who test positive can be asymptomatic or experience minimal symptoms, we’ve seen otherwise healthy young people across the country, including here in Dane County be hospitalized.”

She said the long-term effects of COVID-19 are still largely unknown, and willfully spreading the virus “places everyone you meet, particularly our more vulnerable family and community members, at higher risk.”

On Friday, data from Wisconsin counties and the state Department of Health Services showed a second day of a record high for the rise in number of positive cases in a 24-hour period following a recording-breaking Thursday number.

On UW-Madison’s campus, another 112 students and staff have tested positive for COVID-19, according to data Friday. Since Aug. 23, 2,511 students and employees have tested positive.

Over the last seven days, the university data showed campus is averaging about 111 cases per day.

There are 390 students in on-campus isolation and 108 in housing quarantine, in addition to the residents in Sellery and Witte halls and in many fraternity and sorority chapter houses, the university said.

Public Health Madison & Dane County has also recently seen a dramatic increase in positive cases. University officials said Friday that a large proportion of the positive test results from on-campus and off-campus testing have been linked to UW–Madison students.