Zion Glover, a Stern first-year, tested positive for COVID-19 on Sept. 1 while moving into Rubin Residence Hall and after visiting the dorm’s second floor lounge. NYU’s COVID-19 Prevention & Response Team reacted quickly, Glover told WSN. That same day they notified his roommate — currently quarantining in Rubin for 14 days — as well as people with whom he’d been in close contact.
“[The Prevention & Response Team] told me I had two hours to grab everything, and that a van would come pick me up,” Glover said. “They moved me out of the dorms into Second Street.”
Rubin, an undergraduate residential hall near Washington Square Park, is part of the First Year Residential Experience. It is notorious for being the only freshmen hall without air conditioning. The dorm normally houses 680 students, but now is at around 50% occupancy due to COVID-19 guidelines. Many Rubin first-years are panicking because the non-air-conditioned dorm has left its air-conditioned lounge open — leaving open, in turn, the potential for more visits like Glover’s.
When asked for an interview about the protocol for residential COVID-19 cases — and asked if Rubin Hall plans to close its lounge — neither the COVID-19 Prevention & Response Team, nor NYU Housing, nor Student Affairs responded.
Glover was tested at NYU’s Gould Plaza testing center the same day he moved in. He suspects he was infected while working at his hometown pharmacy, prior to returning to the University.
“I’ve gone through the earlier stages of it, where the cough and the stuffy nose and all that stuff was developed,” Glover said. “And now I’m at a stage where I feel perfectly fine.”
In a statement responding to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Sept. 8 press conference, in which the governor criticized NYU for its handling of the pandemic, NYU Spokesman John Beckman said that the University has conducted over 22,600 COVID-19 tests since Aug. 1, and that only 27 individuals have tested positive — approximately 0.1 percent of the school’s population.
At press time, according to NYU’s COVID-19 Testing Data published on its Status of Operations webpage, NYU has conducted nearly 24,000 tests since Aug. 1, with 33 positives across all campus locations. Since Aug. 28, 14 people have tested positive at the University’s New York testing centers.
Feeling asymptomatic on Move-In Day, Glover told WSN that he visited Rubin’s lounge before being notified that he’d tested positive for COVID-19. CAS first-year Diya Basu heard from mutual friends that she was present in the lounge at the same time as Glover. She added that NYU has not individually reached out to her.
“A lot of people were going to the lounge because that’s air conditioned and our rooms really aren’t,” Basu said. “I think that because that’s the only floor with air conditioning, it is really tempting to be going there.”
Basu received instructions on when to get tested via a friend, who had called the NYU Student Health Center. Basu told WSN that there was no dorm-wide or school-wide email with guidelines about what to do if a fellow resident tests positive.
“[SHC] said anyone who even had minor contact with him should get tested within three days after that, since it takes some time to develop in the system,” Basu said. “After 14 days, also get tested again.We all just decided to go get tested. None of us tested positive.”
Rubin Hall’s lounge still remains open, but only with a limited number of students allowed inside.
“[Rubin’s] been giving us warnings, too,” Steinhardt first-year Christina Young said. “They said if it gets too crowded they’re just going to close [the lounge] down.”
Neither Young nor Sixx Orange, a Liberal Studies first-year, have been to the Rubin lounge, believing it’s an inappropriate time to gather in communal spaces, since most have only recently returned to the University. Orange found it strange that Rubin did not notify residents that Glover had tested positive for COVID-19.
“I think we just found out through the grapevine and it freaked us out that why is no one telling us?” Orange said. “Other than being in our dorm, we haven’t been anywhere else.”
The University did not immediately notify parents, either.
Rubin residents who spoke with WSN believe that the majority of students are complying with the COVID-19 guidelines, such as social distancing and mask-wearing. While Basu feels comfortable going to dining halls, she says that isn’t the case for many students.
“Rubin’s closest dining hall is Downstein, so I think all of us have just been going there or Lipton, which is the second closest,” Basu said. “I see a lot of people ordering in, too, from Grubhub and stuff because of the unprecedented situation. And obviously some people don’t feel comfortable going to the dining halls.”
After some calls on the first couple days of quarantine and isolation, Glover said that check-ins from the University stopped. But based on his first week and a half as an NYU student, Glover thinks the University is doing a good job handling the virus.
“As you can imagine, the food is okay,” Glover said. “It’s not bad, I mean, they’re doing the best that they can do. Checking up on me, they called me, the first couple days they were really focusing on making sure I was alright and gave me the Wellness number. But since then, I haven’t really talked to people that often.”
As of press time, Glover told WSN that he doesn’t know when he’ll finish quarantining.
Email Roshni Raj at [email protected]