PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — The University of Rhode Island issued a two-week shelter-in-place order Friday for fraternity and sorority houses, citing a high number of coronavirus cases in the school's Greek system.
The school sent the notice in tandem with its Interfraternity Council and Panhellenic Association.
“We ask our Greek Life students to comply with this request with a focus on returning to full campus participation in 14 days,” the notice said. “We know your collective actions can have a positive impact on our ability to continue the fall semester with face-to-face classes.”
The order is in effect from 9 p.m. Friday to Saturday, Oct. 24, the school said. Members of fraternities and sororities should not leave their houses, on or off campus, except for medical visits and other essential services, such as grocery shopping and essential employment.
The notice says students will take all classes virtually for the duration of the order and should not visit campus if they don't already live there.
The school said it based its decision on statistics showing a much higher rate of coronavirus positivity among students in Greek housing, 11.17%, than in total off-campus housing, 3.83%, and the on-campus population, 0.65%.
There was no evidence as of Friday that the virus had been spread in classrooms or labs, the school said. Chapters with no cases can apply for an exception.
Students and chapters that don't follow guidelines could be suspended or dismissed, the notice said.
Upcoming sorority and fraternity bid days can be held virtually only, the school said.
In other coronavirus-related news:
RAIMONDO NOT BUDGING
Gov. Gina Raimondo does not anticipate relaxing any of Rhode Island's coronavirus restrictions until a vaccine becomes available.
The state has been in Phase 3 of its economic recovery plane since June and will likely stay there for several more months, the Democratic governor told WPRI-TV on Thursday.
“As much as I would love to relax these regulations, I am confident that's not the right thing to do," she said. “We have to stay where we are in Phase 3 and just hold on for a few more months until we have a vaccine."
She also expressed concern about a rising number of confirmed coronavirus cases and a rising number of virus-related hospitalizations, even though the state's positivity rate remains lower than 2%.
She said most of the new cases appear to be connected to small gatherings, not large public events, and urged Rhode Islanders to “try to be a little more careful.”
In other news, Raimondo said the alleged plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer was “terrible,” but said she herself feels safe.
The state Department of Health reported 167 new confirmed coronavirus cases and three additional virus-related deaths on Friday.
The new cases were out of more than 10,000 tests, a daily positivity rate of about 1.7%, lower than Raimondo's target of 2%.
The seven-day rolling average of the positivity rate in Rhode Island was about 1.5% on Thursday, according to the Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering.
The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Rhode Island has risen over the past two weeks from almost 118 per day on Sept. 24 to almost 162 per day on Thursday. Raimondo has said that the number of cases is rising because the state is testing so many people.
There have now been nearly 23,600 confirmed cases and a total of 1,130 fatalities during the pandemic, the health department said.
The number of people in the hospital dropped to 112 as of Wednesday, the latest for which the information was available, with 10 of those patients in intensive care.