COVID-19 cases at Dartmouth College spike

Town officials say off-campus parties likely to blame
Published: Mar. 1, 2021 at 5:07 PM EST
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HANOVER, N.H. (WCAX) - Town officials in Hanover, New Hampshire, say off-campus parties are likely to blame for a spike in COVID-19 cases at Dartmouth College. The Ivy League school has fared relatively well when it comes to COVID-19 on campus. But recently, a spike in the college’s case count is prompting changes.

“There is not much we can do except make the most of it,” said Dartmouth freshman Julia Cross.

“Making the best of it. It has definitely been interesting this winter,” said senior Jack Mathis.

Dartmouth senior Jack Mathis and freshman Julia Cross have similar feelings about a spike of coronavirus cases at the Big Green. There are currently 124 active cases on campus, 122 of them are students. That’s well above any active caseload at Dartmouth since the pandemic first began. Because of that, restrictions have tightened. Inside gathering places like the gym and library have been temporarily closed. The dining halls are now takeout only.

“Not exactly optimal. I think a lot of people are definitely feeling the new quarantine restrictions,” Cross said.

“It is definitely a bummer but it is for the safety of the whole community, so it’s a little sacrifice for the better of the community,” Mathis said.

In a letter to its campus community, college officials say they are investigating the reason behind the increased cases. But, town officials say they have received several complaints recently about large parties at off-campus houses.

“We have a number of houses that we have pinpointed that have become cruise-through party houses,” Hanover Town Manager Julia Griffin said.

Months ago, Hanover passed an ordinance that forbids gatherings of more than 10 people. The town manager says those rules are clearly not being followed lately which means the entire community suffers as a result.

“We’ve got businesses that are closing down in downtown out of an abundance of caution. Others wondering, should we not allow Dartmouth students to come into our restaurants,” Griffin said.

Cross has heard rumors about parties.

“It is honestly a little disappointing that everyone has been trying so hard to keep COVID numbers down and then one unfortunate incident causes a big spike,” she said.

Mathis said the fast uptick in cases speaks to how contagious the virus is.

“So it is a hard situation, I think, but people are doing the best they can to stop it from spreading even more,” he said.

The college says the students who have tested positive are currently in isolation and are receiving any needed medical attention. Contact tracing is also well underway.

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