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Gov. Inslee announces new coronavirus restrictions for universities

The announcement comes as large universities and college towns across the state have seen a spike in COVID cases.

OLYMPIA, Wash — Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced new coronavirus restrictions for colleges and universities across the state.

The announcement comes as college towns across Washington have seen a spike in COVID-19 cases.

Places like the University of Washington and Washington State University, in particular, have been battling a surge in the pandemic.

Inslee said at least 800 cases statewide were linked to large college gatherings and Greek social events.

To help lower the cases, Inslee announced the following restrictions:

  • Masks are required at all times when students are outside of their sleeping rooms.
  • No more than two people per sleeping room – no congregate sleeping porches.
  • Limited visitation to five people outside of the house at one time (must be masked and physically distanced).
  • Only one visitor is allowed in a dorm/sleeping room (must be masked and physically distanced).
  • Only five people or visitors at one time in one place – no Apple Cup watching with more than five people (must be masked and physically distanced).
  • Colleges must provide isolation and quarantine facilities to Greek system houses, off-campus congregate houses, students living in dorms and personnel if they don’t have a place to go.
  • For institutions without residential facilities, develop a plan with the relevant local health jurisdiction to address the isolation and/or quarantine needs among any of their staff and students who are unable to isolate or quarantine in their usual residence.
  • All meals must follow current guidance – grab and go or single tables.
  • Suggestions on public safety enforcement agencies partnerships.

Click here to read the full proclamation.

A COVID-19 outbreak involving students at the UW fraternities and sororities continues to grow with 242 positive cases as of Oct. 13.

The cases were spread among 17 sororities and fraternities in the 45-chapter system, which is north of the university campus in Seattle, according to the university.

WSU also saw a large spike in cases as Whitman County and Pullman. Many of these cases were contributed to large gatherings at WSU.

Washington health officials warned Tuesday the state could be entering a fall surge in the coronavirus pandemic as cases increase at “an alarming rate.”

The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) warned climbing cases, if left unchecked, could have “serious consequences” on the health care system, reopening schools and the economy.

From Sept. 25-Oct. 8, there were 100.6 new cases per 100,000 people in Washington, according to the most recent complete DOH data. This is higher than the first peak at the end of March and early April (72.4 new cases) but hasn’t reached the second peak in July (150.6 new cases).

DOH says this trend in increasing cases is likely connected to widespread disease transmission, not localized outbreaks.