TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The Pima County Health Department, along with the University of Arizona, are asking students on or near campus to shelter in place for 14 days.
UArizona president Dr. Robert Robbins calls the shelter in place a “last-ditch effort”—as cases in and around campus have continued to rise. While the university does not have leverage over student complexes like this one that are off campus, the county does.
" So, today…we are recommending we have a stay in shelter situation," said Dr. Theresa Cullen, Pima County Health Department director at a UArizona reentry briefing on Monday.
Dr. Robbins said students living both on and near campus, particularly those in congregate settings including high rises, mini dorms, apartments with more than 10 students and Panhellenic houses, would be included in the shelter-in-place. Exceptions would include going to in-person classes already being held, getting food, working or getting medical treatment.
Samira Ketcherside, a junior at UArizona, recently moved back home after seeing student behavior and a number of her friends had tested positive for COVID-19 with the rapid tests. She recalls a video she saw of a student who had tested positive on the rooftop at one of the high rises around campus.
“This guy has COVID, and he’s up here with all these people,” she said.
She felt it was the right thing for her to move back home and remover herself from potential spreading situations. Ketcherside is not sure the shelter in place will work, and she’s not alone in that thought—parties are still happening.
“When kids get bored, they’re going to want to see each other, and they’re going to be in close quarters,” she said.
“I think it’s difficult for them to shut those down because they’re mostly in these apartments,” said Jaxon Finch, a junior at UArizona. “If you want to party, there’s parties out there.”
He said over the weekend he saw a video of at least 100 people at a party, many not wearing masks. PCHD said they do have the power to implement some ramifications if needed, including closing the congregate settings at apartments, like pools—something they said they are looking very closely at.
Dozens of COVID-19 cases have been found around campus in high rises like the Hub Tucson. Councilman Steve Kozachik said at least 45 cases had been found there. The apartment’s management company, Core Spaces sent KOLD News 13 the following statement.
"Core Spaces remains committed to ensuring resident health and safety is a top priority. Our management team has been closely cooperating with local city and health department officials. While as landlords we are prohibited from requiring mandatory testing, we were the first and only off-campus housing owners in Tucson to introduce and facilitate door-to-door testing at all three of our properties in partnership with the City. We will continue facilitating door-to-door testing with the City for the foreseeable future. We have proactively implemented several protocols utilizing CDC, State, and Local guidelines in addition to our own policies for our buildings since the early part of the pandemic and made adjustments as new information and practices come to light. Getting the virus under control requires the commitment of all members of our community, and we must take care to be vigilant neighbors. "
The University of Arizona on Monday, Sept. 14, said it will ask students to quarantine themselves for two weeks to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Exceptions will be made for going to class, work or getting supplies or seeking medical treatment.
“Pima County Health Department in concert with the University of Arizona is recommending a 14-day shelter-in-place for students living on or near campus and particularly those living in congregate settings such as high rises, mini dorms, apartments with more than 10 students and our Panhellenic houses,” UA President Dr. Robert C. Robbins said.