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Coronavirus spreading fast at frat, sorority houses at Indiana Univ., which wants them closed

“These houses are not safe living environments at this point,” a university executive said of Greek community houses, where the rate of positive cases is as high as 87 percent.
Image: Rutgers v Indiana
Indiana University-Bloomington in 2017.Michael Hickey / Getty Images file

Indiana University is calling for the closure of all fraternity and sorority houses on its flagship campus in Bloomington due to a growing spread of the coronavirus that has already put 30 of the 40 houses under quarantine, university officials said Thursday.

“Greek houses at IU are seeing this type of spread at a quickly increasing rate," said Chuck Carney, a university spokesperson during a news briefing. The rate of positive cases, including for people who are asymptomatic, is coming in as high as 87 percent at some of the houses, he said.

“IU-Bloomington highly encourages closing all 40 houses," the spokesperson said.

The university's recommendation comes after seven additional Greek community houses were placed under quarantine on Wednesday evening, on top of 22 in the last week, according to the university's website.

The 42,000 students at the university's Bloomington campus includes about 2,600 in the 40 fraternity and sorority houses and two other student-fellowship houses.

An 8.1 percent positive rate for coronavirus in Greek housing over the past week, as posted on the university’s testing dashboard, has jumped to the "double digits," according to a university health official.

In contrast, the university's residence halls showed a 1.6 percent positive rate over the past week, the testing dashboard shows.

The fraternity and sorority houses are owned by housing corporations, not the university.

The school does not have the authority to order the houses closed, but is advising that students leave them to mitigate the spread of the virus, said university Executive Vice President Lauren Robel.

“These houses are not safe living environments at this point,” Robel said.

She said she hopes that the housing corporations will work with the university to figure out the best solution.

“We do expect that they direct policy and operating procedures and will work closely with the families who are in the houses to come to solutions that are in the best interest of our students,” she said.