Pitt to not publicly announce future COVID-19 cases due to community spread


TPN file photo

The University’s first documented COVID-19 case emerged from a student living in Holland Hall.

By Janine Faust and Jon Moss

Pitt announced in a Monday evening email that it will not publicly announce any further coronavirus cases on campus, one day after the University announced its first case of the pandemic virus in a residence hall.

Other universities who made similar decisions recently after reporting an initial case in their community include the University of South Carolina and the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

Kenyon Bonner, the vice provost and dean of students, said in the email that the affected Pitt student had lived in Holland Hall. Holland Hall residents and everyone determined to have had close contact with the student was notified.

“This individual is now self-isolating at their permanent home, and all close contacts are self-quarantining at either their permanent homes or on campus,” Bonner said.

Bonner said for any future cases, Pitt will continue to work closely with health officials, communicate with close contacts and follow “the appropriate processes,” but will no longer send out notifications to the wider Pitt community.

“As we are now experiencing community spread in our region, we will not send community or location-specific messages for each subsequent individual case,” he said.

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Allegheny County currently has 48 cases, while there are 644 cases statewide.

Pitt spokesperson Kevin Zwick said going forward, the University will provide updates about new cases when there is “important and actionable information that serves the public interest.”

Bonner also said in the email that students remaining on campus will all have moved into single rooms with private bathrooms by Tuesday. They will not be permitted to have any guests in their room. Also, as a result of Gov. Tom Wolf’s stay-at-home order issued Monday, students will not be permitted to leave their residence halls except to get food or medication, seek medical attention or go exercise outdoors while social distancing.

“We continue to work closely with health officials to ensure we are taking every precaution and implementing proactive measures to protect our students, faculty and staff,” Bonner said. “This includes contact tracing for any positive case, implementing proper isolation and quarantine procedures as needed and disinfecting areas as appropriate.”

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.