Stanford reports 26 student COVID-19 cases, row house outbreak

Nov. 16, 2021, 12:18 a.m.

The University reported 26 new student and 15 new faculty, staff and postdoc COVID-19 cases during the week of Nov. 8, according to the COVID-19 dashboard. With six student cases in a row house, some row houses and student organizations canceled or postponed their social events. 

This week’s case count marks the largest spike in COVID-19 cases since the week of Sept. 20, when in-person classes resumed. The case count is also a rise from the 11 student and five employee cases reported in last week’s COVID-19 dashboard, though last week’s count for faculty, staff and postdocs only included those who tested within Stanford’s surveillance testing system. Stanford’s seven-day positivity rate has more than doubled from last week’s, rising from 0.08% to 0.18%. The University’s seven-day positivity rate continues to remain lower than the county’s 1.3% positivity rate and the state’s 2.0% positivity rate.

Of the 15 positive cases for faculty, staff and postdocs, eight are included in the University’s reported testing count, and the other seven either tested outside of the University’s surveillance testing system or tested positive prior to last week and recently reported it to the University, according to the dashboard. 

University spokesperson Karla Hudson wrote that there was “some spread among six students living in a row house.” Though Hudson did not specify which row house had the six student cases, an email was sent to students living in Xanadu on Thursday, informing residents that three students tested positive for COVID-19 within the previous 14 days. According to Xanadu resident and Daily staffer Defne Genç ’24, the reported cases doubled over the weekend to a total of six. 

The University has already taken action to contain cases, according to Hudson. 

“​​Students who tested positive have been isolated, and those at high risk for exposure have been quarantined per our safety protocols,” she wrote.

A town hall was held in Xanadu with Vaden representatives and Associate Vice Provost of Environmental Health and Safety Russell Furr on Friday. During the town hall, residents raised concerns about the amount of time that it takes to get test results through Color Genomics, according to Genç.

“We had to argue that the Color turnaround was way too slow and we all needed to get rapid tested on Friday since that’s when we heard about the last 3 cases,” she wrote, referring to the testing company Stanford is using.

However, according to Genç, Vaden representatives and Furr said the University would not provide residents with rapid tests. Instead, the University allowed residents to use their dorm funds to purchase rapid tests, and a rapid test was used to detect one of the cases, according to Xanadu Resident Advisor Casi Cobb ’22. The University recommends that students use the Color Genomics COVID-19 testing kits, which, according to Color Genomics, are as accurate as PCR tests, as opposed to rapid tests, which have lower accuracy.  

The University encouraged Xanadu residents to continue testing and to “take out food in dining,” Cobb wrote. The University also mentioned the potential addition of fans in the hallways with the caveat that Xanadu residents pay for the fans with their dorm funds, according to Cobb. In the residence, dining switched from dine-in to grab-and-go, and communal food, such as certain cereals, were removed, according to Genç.

As news spread of increasing COVID-19 cases on the row over the weekend, some row houses and student organizations canceled or postponed their social events. Members of Sigma Epsilon announced that they canceled a Friday night event through group chat messages, Instagram story posts and anonymous forums. The Stanford Pre-Business Association (SPBA) also postponed their fall masquerade that was originally set to take place on Saturday.

“Due to an alarming number of positive cases on campus, board has elected to postpone our fall masquerade for a later date, tbd,” wrote Donya Sarrafian ’23 in a Saturday email to members of the organization. “We were all looking forward to this night but our commitment to keeping our community safe and healthy comes first.” 

Stanford Health Care continues to offer COVID-19 booster vaccinations to eligible, at-risk individuals, and the University continues to monitor COVID-19 variants and enforce weekly COVID-19 testing and indoor masking requirements, regardless of vaccination status. Stanford also continues to emphasize that vaccination, testing and masking can prevent serious illness, according to the dashboard.

Sarah Raza '23 M.A. '24 is a Vol. 264 News Managing Editor. During Vol. 263, she was a Desk Editor for the University Desk. She hails from Michigan. Contact Sarah at sraza 'at' Agrawal '25 is a writer for the Academics desk. Contact the News section at news 'at' Gaines '25 is a staff writer for the News section. Contact The Daily's News section at news 'at'

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