Lehigh is closing its campus for the semester while the school hits a record number of active COVID-19 cases among students.
The university is reporting 240 active COVID-19 cases as of Nov. 20. Yesterday, Lehigh decided to close campus a day earlier than originally planned after reporting the worst outbreak this semester. All in-person activities were originally scheduled to end on Nov. 20, but Lehigh moved all classes remotely and closed all gyms and libraries effective immediately on Nov. 19.
The 240 active cases marks a 54-case increase in 24 hours after Lehigh reported 186 active cases on Nov. 19. A day before that, on Nov. 18, Lehigh reported 91 active cases — a surge of nearly 100 new cases in a one-day span.
On Nov. 9, there were just seven active COVID-19 cases among students.
Asymptomatic exit testing this week produced a 9.99 percent positivity rate, the dashboard shows. The cumulative positivity rate of surveillance testing reached a high this week at 1.48 percent, up from 0.93 percent the week of Nov. 9. In September, the positivity rate of surveillance testing was as low as 0.18 percent.
Lehigh is advising positive cases not to travel home for Thanksgiving break. That could mean dozens of students will be living in isolation housing on campus over break or remaining in their off campus residences in Bethlehem.
This latest campus closure — which will shutter campus for good until spring semester starts Feb. 1 — is the second time Lehigh has had to implement such restrictions in response to an outbreak. At the peak of the campus outbreak in October, Lehigh reported 177 cumulative positive COVID-19 cases. This latest case count, which is based on active cases, marks the most cases ever recorded on campus at any one point.