Pitt confirms first COVID-19 case in residence hall


TPN File photo

By Jon Moss, News Editor

Pitt announced in a Sunday email that the University learned late Saturday night of a confirmed student case of COVID-19 in a University residence hall. Administrators were also made aware of other potential cases within the Pitt community, and expects to see a continued increase in the number of people impacted.

Pitt spokesperson David Seldin declined to identify which residence hall the student was living in, but a Monday evening email from Kenyon Bonner, the vice provost and dean of students, confirmed the building as Holland Hall. Bonner said the affected student was “safely quarantined” at their permanent home off campus.

The University said in the email that it is following existing protocols and working with local health officials to support the affected student and help reduce the spread of infection to others.

These measures include retracing the affected student’s movements, as well as cleaning and disinfecting areas where the student resided and any other areas the student visited for a prolonged period. The University confirmed in the email that it has already reached out to people who have had close contact with the affected student, and Seldin said those people are self-isolating.

Chancellor Patrick Gallagher announced several weeks ago that Pitt would shift to online classes indefinitely beginning Monday in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. The University has urged students to “not return” to campus following spring break and has offered partial refunds to students who move out. There are about 500 students currently living in residence halls on campus, Seldin said.

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Allegheny County currently has 40 cases, while there are 479 cases statewide.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has encouraged citizens to take steps to protect themselves, such as to avoid touching their eyes, nose and mouth, clean their hands often and practice social distancing. The agency urged citizens to contact their doctor if they developed a fever, cough or shortness of breath around twp to 14 days after coming into close contact with a person known to have contacted the virus or recently traveling to an area with widespread or ongoing community spread of COVID-19.

Pitt students can contact the Student Health Service at 412-383-1800, and Pitt faculty and staff can contact the Employee Health Clinic at 412-647-4949. Commonwealth residents can contact the Pennsylvania Department of Health at 877-724-3258.