Several members of the University of Wisconsin-Madison's marching band recently tested positive for COVID-19, prompting band directors to cancel two rehearsals this week.
UW spokesperson Meredith McGlone said many band members live together off campus with members of their section. There are multiple opportunities for exposure among students in the same section, but fewer opportunities for exposure across sections, she explained.
However, those that live together off-campus with their sections are also known to host weekly house parties for all members of the band. An email, sent to band members on Tuesday from Band Director Corey Pompey and Assistant Director Alexander Gonzalez, did not point to a cause of the uptick in cases, but suggested that students mask and social distance as means to mitigate risk.
Band leadership also reminded students that they can get a free COVID test from the university if they have symptoms, are in close contact with someone who tested positive or are otherwise concerned, McGlone said. Contact tracers from UHS reach out to students and employees who test positive.
"We are not mandating that a test be taken; it's only a suggestion," the email to students read.
Band members who are a close contact of anyone who tested positive and who are vaccinated can continue going to classes and rehearsals as normal if they do not develop symptoms. Members who are unvaccinated and have had close contact need to quarantine for at least 10 days.
“We’re providing these instructions to band members just as we do for any student or employee who tests positive,” McGlone said.
The band is slated to travel to Chicago next weekend for the Badger football game against Notre Dame at Soldier Field. McGlone said there has been no change in the band’s performance schedule.
“It’s important to consider the broader context in which these cases have occurred. As the delta variant continues to spread through Wisconsin, 71 out of 72 counties are experiencing a high level of transmission, although Dane County’s rate remains well below most other areas,” McGlone said. “As expected, campus is seeing an increase in cases, which is likely to continue over the next couple of weeks.”
In the past two days, 76 UW-Madison students have tested positive through on-campus testing offered by UHS, according to the university’s dashboard.
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