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WGLT's reporting on the coronavirus pandemic, which began in McLean County in March 2020.

IWU Monitors COVID Outbreak Among Students

Ames Library at Illinois Wesleyan University
Illinois Wesleyan University Wednesday that students in a recent cluster of COVID-19 cases must test negative before returning to campus.

Illinois Wesleyan University said it is responding to a cluster of 10 COVID-19 cases among students.

All 10 live in non-university housing, Dean of Students Karla Carney-Hall and Interim Executive Director of Health/Counseling Vickie Folse said Wednesday.

IWU said some of the students in the group that tested positive had symptoms, but many did not.

“We have identified, through the early identification and notification process, that the spread of the virus resulting in this outbreak occurred as a consequence of off-campus social gatherings where the consistent use of masks and physical distancing did not occur, a violation of university protocols,” said Folse and Carney-Hall.

A university spokesperson said the affected students lived in various off-campus residences and not in a single apartment complex or house.

Earlier on Wednesday, McLean County health officials announced a new single-day record of 51 new coronavirus cases; it is the third time in the past week that the county has set a new daily record for positive COVID-19 cases.

Classes at IWU began this week. The university required students to have a test for the coronavirus before coming to campus.

Of the nearly 1,450 baseline tests administered to students over the past two weeks, IWU said nine unrelated students tested positive for COVID-19 upon their arrival on campus. Seven were on-campus residents and two lived off campus. Four of the nine were disclosed last week.

The IWU positivity rate at the start of school was less than 1% (0.62%). By comparison, McLean County’s seven-day rolling positivity rate was 2.1% as of Tuesday, and the statewide seven-day rolling positivity rate was 4.3%.

The students who tested positive were notified and either returned home, or to their off-campus residence to continue isolating, said IWU.

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WGLT Senior Reporter Charlie Schlenker has spent more than three award-winning decades in radio. He lives in Normal with his family.