27 Purdue co-operative living houses have positive cases, University not naming the houses

Purdue Greek Life

Purdue University and Indiana University are taking two different approaches to how they communicate their coronavirus cases in Greek and Co-operative living houses.

Posted: Sep 10, 2020 12:10 AM
Updated: Sep 10, 2020 1:00 AM

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) - Health leaders at Purdue say there are 27 Greek/Co-operative living houses on campus that have positive COVID-19 cases. However at this time, the university is not giving any further details on which houses are impacted.

Dr. Esteban Ramirez from Purdue confirmed the number of houses at Wednesday's bi-weekly press conference with the Tippecanoe County Health Department. He said there are six houses that are on a harsher quarantine. University spokesperson Tim Doty confirmed three of those six houses completed their quarantine this week. Twenty-one houses are on limited quarentine.

News 18 asked Doty for a list of the houses impacted by coronavirus, and if there is any breakdown of COVID-19 case numbers by dorm. He said that the university does not specify the houses and that they don't have a residence hall breakdown.

When News 18 asked for further clarification as to why the university is not naming the houses, he replied, "Privacy."

As we've previously reported, Indiana University Bloomington has quarantined multiple Greek houses due to the number of coronavirus cases being found in those house members. On September 3rd, IU and the Monroe County Health Department advised students living in Greek houses to re-evaluate their living situations.

IU Bloomington has created an online dashboard where people can see the number of living positive cases, positivity rates and quarantine status at all Greek/Co-operative living houses on its campus. Thirty-three out of IU's 42 communal living houses are in quarantine according to the website. IU's two non-Greek Co-operative living houses, Evans Scholars and Christian Student Fellowship, are both reporting no positive cases and are not in quarantine.

News 18 reached out to IU spokesperson Chuck Carney about the university's decision to go public with this information. He said in a statement:

"We have been working with the Monroe County Health Department in preparing the Greek houses throughout the summer. In issuing our recommendation last week that all Greek houses re-evaluate their living situations, 33 of 40 were on a recommended quarantine from the health department. It was certainly in consultation with them that we placed the positivity rates online, in part because at that point it had become a county public health issue. We needed to be very clear as to why we were making such a recommendation. The ones with the highest positivity rates were under a public health department recommendation of quarantine, which is by definition a public health matter. If any private house were issued a recommendation by the health department, it would then be a matter of public record."

Carney said the information on the Greek/Co-op living website is updated weekly. He said another reason they post the information publicly is to show that this needs to be addressed by the corporations and organizations that operate the houses. He said IU does not own the land these houses are on, so they can only make recommendations. Any orders to close must come from the Greek chapter's national organization.

News 18 also asked Carney if IU had any data for its residence halls. He said they have not published any similar information as they have with the Greek/Co-op houses. However he did say, "Right now, our residence hall infection rate is 3.64 percent, compared to nearly 25 percent in Greek houses, so the circumstances are quite difference."

According to Purdue's COVID-19 dashboard as of Sept. 9th, 298 students have tested positive for coronavirus and 21 employees have tested positive. That's a total of 319 cases with a 2.54% positivity rate since August 1st.

Only 50 out of 834 quarantine beds are being used on Purdue's campus. Dr. Ramirez said they hope to increase the amount of beds they have to 1,000 as a precaution.

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