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At least 121 UW students infected with coronavirus in Greek row outbreak

A COVID-19 outbreak in connection to UW fraternities grew to at least 121 infected students, according to the university.

SEATTLE — A coronavirus outbreak on Greek row at the University of Washington’s Seattle campus continues to grow.

As of Sunday, July 5, at least 112 fraternity residents tested positive for COVID-19, according to the university. Nine other students who do not live in the houses but were in close contact with residents also tested positive, bringing the total infected students to 121.

The Interfraternity Council, which is a student-led governing board for UW fraternities, told UW in its most recent update on July 3 that at least 117 residents in 15 fraternities self-reported that they tested positive for the virus. However, UW says it is still verifying the status of those cases.

UW first reported the cluster Tuesday saying that at least 38 students in 10 houses were infected.

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"This is concerning and reminds us that outbreaks can quickly spiral," Dr. Geoffrey Gottlieb, chair of the UW Advisory Committee on Communicable Diseases, said Tuesday in a statement.

Leaders from the fraternities told public health officials that students who tested positive were isolating in their rooms, and none were hospitalized.

There are about 1,000 students living in 25 fraternities north of UW's Seattle campus, according to the university.

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According to Gottlieb, most of the university's Greek houses reduced resident capacity by up to 50% this summer in response to the pandemic, but Gottlieb said those actions weren't sufficient without other measures like wearing masks and social distancing.

UW Medicine set up a testing facility on campus within walking distance of the Greek houses and as of July 5 has conducted nearly 1,300 tests. Residents of Greek houses and others in the community have also sought testing at City of Seattle drive-up sites, Hall Health and UWMC-Northwest, officials said.