Villanova University sees spike of COVID cases on campus

VILLANOVA, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- Villanova University is warning students to be COVID-cautious as cases spike at the school.

Less than a week into the new semester, university officials said 186 students have tested positive.

Villanova warns if the trend continues, the school may need to revert to all-remote instruction.

In a letter sent to students on Tuesday, the university said, "We have had three consecutive days of 60 or more positive COVID-19 cases on campus, which is very concerning. We need to alter our course immediately to ensure that we will not need to disrupt the semester."

The letter continued, "One week into the spring semester we have more than 50% of the total number of positive cases we had in the entire fall semester. These numbers are not sustainable."

"Yeah, like personally, I'm really worried about it. Like, I feel like the numbers are going up so much, like we're not doing much about it," said Freshman Grace Phillips.

SEE ALSO: 30-year-old Montgomery County bartender with no travel history tests positive for UK variant

"It's definitely just like, outside of the classroom things going on that I feel are out of the school's control at time," said Freshman Patrick Carney.

Campus officials said contact tracing has shown the cases come primarily from social activity - "even small gatherings."

The letter read, "There is no indication of a single event, or one type of event, leading to the current increase in positive cases."

The school advised students to interact with only a very small number of people, maintain at least six-feet of physical distance from everyone, limit close contacts, and wear a mask at all times "even when you are in a room alone on campus."

"We must reduce the spread of the virus. Despite the challenges that winter weather and more time indoors may bring, it's time to double-down. We can do this again, but only with each person's active participation," the letter said.

SEE ALSO: Temple, Penn ramp up COVID-19 testing as students return to campus

The trend is also troubling for businesses in the heart of campus.

"All the businesses here, are here because of the school," said Nova Mediterranean Grill Owner Costas Xinos.

Xinos fears a campus shutdown could land a fatal blow to the long established eatery corridor that's been struggling to survive.

"Our lunch is way down, our catering is non existent," he said.

He and others counting on students to heed the university's warning to limit gatherings and continue following safety precautions.

"When you're 18, 19 years old, and your away from home, and you're with your friends, and you add COVID fatigue to that, it's a problem," Xinos said.

The university says it tests anyone with symptoms along with what they call surveillance testing, which involves the random sampling of campus for traces of the virus.

Despite all this, some students now fearful their semester may be in jeopardy and worse.

"My parents are high-risk so, I don't think they'd even want me back home. They'd probably want me to quarantine first," said Carney.

"I don't want to get it and bring it back to my family because I know they've been really careful and I've been really careful, too. I don't want to bring it upon them just because it's spreading here," added Phillips.
Copyright © 2021 WPVI-TV. All Rights Reserved.