First University Member Tests Positive for Coronavirus


Courtesy of National Park Service

Courtesy of National Park Service

Grace Kennard Co-News Editor

At 11:00am EST students on Saturday, March 21, students, faculty and staff received an email from the Student Health Center announcing that a University student has tested positive for the coronavirus (COVID-19). The email was titled “COVID-19 Update” and was signed by Dr. Mary McGonigle, the Director of the Student Health Center.


“The student is resting comfortably at home with mild symptoms,” Dr. McGonigle wrote. “Although I am unable to provide specific details due to privacy laws, I can share with you that this individual departed campus and traveled home on March 15.”


It is unknown what grade the student is in or where the student resided on campus due to the privacy laws McGonigle cited. However, she reassured the community that all who came in close contact with the student have been alerted. “As per protocols from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Pennsylvania Department of Health, close contacts of this student have been notified and advised to self-quarantine at home for 14 days and monitor for any symptoms, including fever higher than 100.4, cough and shortness of breath,” Dr. McGonigle wrote.


The email detailed the harsh reality that this will most likely not be the last case to affect the University community. 


“Based on the rapidly evolving situation in the United States and around the world, we expect other cases of COVID-19 will arise in the Villanova community,” she wrote. “We ask everyone to continue to be vigilant and protect yourselves through frequent handwashing and avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth. At this critical time it is vitally important that we continue to practice social distancing to mitigate the spread of the virus.”


Dr. McGonigle echoed the calls of many public health and government officials by asking the community to social distance, a practice that requires staying at least six feet apart from others, and only leaving your home for necessary errands, naturally limiting the interactions with those outside of one’s immediate family. This is said to be very effective in suppressing the amount of new infections for communities and countries as a whole when strictly adhered to.


Across the nation, other schools have felt the impact of the novel coronavirus, regardless of switching to online classes and evacuating campuses. According to The Heights, the independent newspaper of Boston College, 10 students have self-reported cases of COVID-19 as of now. 


“Among the 10 self-reported cases are students who studied in Europe, students who lived off-campus and students who studied at BC this semester, according to the update,” The Heights reported. 

Washington University in St. Louis notified its community on Wednesday that two of its students had tested positive for COVID-19. “Those students are quarantining out of the state and did not return to campus after returning from their study abroad program ended,” the University stated.

McGonigle closed the email to the University by directing community members to contact the Student Health Center on campus with any questions or concerns. She wrote, “If you have any additional questions, please call 888-298-1964 between the hours of 9 a.m. and 8 p.m. EDT, Monday through Sunday, or email [email protected].”