UNH Announces COVID-19 Cluster Related to Dining Services

Sept. 30, 2020


Dear University Community—

As a result of the university’s high rate of COVID-19 testing throughout its community, the university, in partnership with N.H. Department of Health and Human Services, has identified a group of positive cases related to Dining Services. This is the third cluster identified at the university. The first two clusters involved Theta Chi fraternity and the Gables. UNH is a public institution and this notification is required in compliance with federal Clery Act reporting requirements.

All of the positive cases—12 between Sept. 5 and Sept. 24—had already been detected through the university’s rigorous testing and tracing program and reported on our daily dashboard. Any employee who tested positive was required to immediately isolate until no longer infectious and close contacts were notified and placed in quarantine for 14 days. A majority of cases are no longer active. All of the positive cases were in staff members who may have also had contact with one another outside of the workplace; no students or student employees have been connected to the cluster. There is no recommendation from DHHS to close any dining facility and according to the CDC, there is no evidence to suggest that handling or consuming food is associated with COVID-19. Furthermore, the university dining facilities have been providing only food packaged in to go containers and follow all food safety precautions.

While any positive COVID case is a concern, the university is identifying more positive cases as a result of its regular testing of all community members, not just those with symptoms. UNH publishes its testing results every weekday. Our seven-day positivity rate is 0.11% in a collective community of more than 15,000 individuals.

The university continues to take precautions to keep its community safe including testing students, faculty and staff regularly, enhancing cleaning on campus, and requiring all members of its community to wear face coverings.

COVID-19 continues to circulate in our communities. People can protect themselves and help prevent further infections by:

  • Washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
  • Avoiding close contact with others. When outside your home, keep a distance of at least 6 feet between yourself and others. This is known as physical distancing.
  • Wearing a cloth face covering that covers your mouth and nose to protect others when in public areas.
  • Covering your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, then throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands.
  • Avoiding touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Staying home if you have a fever or are not feeling well.
  • Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces.

Please continue to remain vigilant. Going forward, we will typically update the university community on new clusters using the dashboard. However, if there is any ongoing exposure risk, we will continue to send out messages like this one.

Ashley Lamb, MD MPH
Acting Medical Director, UNH Health & Wellness

Paul Dean
Chief of Police/Associate Vice President for Public Safety and Risk Management