Lehigh University COVID-19 spike: a City concern?

Latest in a series of posts on the coronavirus

Lehigh University COVID-19 Information Center

Lehigh University COVID-19 dashboard

The main item in the Mayor’s report at City Council Tuesday night was, of course, the approval of Michelle Kott as the new Chief of Police.

After the applause on that important action died down, the Mayor went on to the routine business — an announcement about the budget, report on the opening of a playground, news about a voting box in City Hall.

Ending matter-of-factly with “Lehigh University began an active testing of their student body today . . . and as of this afternoon [Tuesday, October 6] we have 75 positive, and once we get the full scale of what the tests show, I’ll have Ms. Wenrich send out a memo to City Council” (video min. 30:32).

Why would there not be mention of an announcement to the public?

No context was put around this comment by the Mayor, President Waldron asked for more complete data, and later in the meeting Councilwoman Crampsie Smith passed on concerns from residents around Moravian College about the coronavirus status there.

Gadfly wonders if there isn’t cause for concern.

The above graph shows a spike in the last week.

100 confirmed cases, 66 off-campus, almost all living, one would suspect, in the adjacent Southside area.

On October 2 the University sent out a letter to the campus community indicating a “concerning increase” in cases and “scaling back” measures being taken. Athletics were suspended a few days before. The spike may have started with athletes.

Was the public not alerted too?

An update October 5 doesn’t indicate concern.

According to University regulations, “Students living off campus are required to self-isolate in their off-campus residence.”

Gadfly wishes good luck with that.

As of yesterday, there were 63 in isolation off-campus, 155 in quarantine off-campus.

We know how fast the virus spreads.

This is concerning.

We hope Lehigh University has been adhering to best practices and will continue to do so.

We’d like to hear more.

Gadfly looks for a public statement from the Bethlehem Health Bureau Director.


“All Lehigh sports ‘shut down’ for undefined period of time, first on-campus cases reported.” Brown And White, September 29.

“Lehigh University temporarily suspends sports programs due to coronavirus,” Morning Call, September 29.

“22 new cases of COVID-19 in 24 hours causes Lehigh University to take almost all classes online,” Lehighvalleylive.com, October 2.

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