In a letter posted on Washington State University’s Facebook page, university administrators urged students to “do better” to combat a recent surge in positive cases of COVID-19.
The letter was posted Friday by WSU President Kirk Schulz, Provost and Executive Vice President Elizabeth Chilton and Vice President of Student Affairs Mary Jo Gonzales.
It said student gatherings and parties that ignored basic safety and health protocols directly resulted in an increase in COVID-19 cases.
Seventy-three COVID-19 cases were reported over the weekend in Whitman County, bringing the county total to 3,852, according to a Whitman County Public Health news release. All 73 cases are people younger than 40 years old.
Total deaths and hospitalizations in the county remained unchanged at 46 and 94, respectively.
“Our numbers are alarmingly high,” the letter read. “This is unacceptable. We are potentially putting our community and vulnerable populations at an increased risk.”
WSU will continue to respond to incidents where health guidelines are not followed, the letter read. Students who violate COVID‑19 restrictions will be subject to action under the university’s student code of conduct.
The statement indicated poor decisions, including those made by students, may cause Whitman County to go back to Phase 2 or 1 of its reopening plan.
Also Friday, Whitman County Public Health encouraged county residents to avoid social gatherings and other situations that would increase their risk of exposure to COVID-19. The agency cited the recent increases in local COVID-19 activity.
“Evidence from contact tracing indicates that disease transmission is occurring most commonly in environments where social distancing and mask wearing aren’t practiced,” Whitman County Public Health Director Chris Skidmore wrote in a press release. “While cases have decreased in the previous months, recent events remind us that it is critical to remain vigilant.”
The agency also encouraged residents to delay travel and advised them to comply with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s current COVID-19 travel advisory guidance, as travel increases your chance of spreading and getting COVID-19.