NYU’s Rubin Residence Hall has been placed under temporary quarantine after NYU’s testing program detected four asymptomatic cases of COVID-19. At around 5 p.m. residents of the freshman dorm were notified of both the positive cases and the mandatory quarantine via an email from NYU’s COVID-19 Prevention & Response Team.
“Out of an abundance of caution and after consulting with the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, NYU is requiring all Rubin residents to quarantine until at least Tuesday,” the email from the Executive Lead of the COVID-19 Prevention & Response Team, Dr. Carlo Ciotoli, reads. “Students will also be notified by Tuesday on whether the quarantine will be extended or not.”
Ciotioli’s email states that on Monday, all Rubin residents will be retested for COVID-19 with the self-administered saliva-sample tests, which all NYU students living in NYU dorms are required to do weekly. Meanwhile, the four Rubin residents who tested positive are isolating. It is unknown where they are isolating or when they tested positive, other than that their results were from last week’s regular testing.
WSN previously reported that Zion Glover, a Stern first-year who tested positive for COVID-19 while moving into Rubin, was isolated at NYU’s Second Street Residential Hall. WSN reported that Glover was moved to Second Street by the COVID-19 Prevention and Response team on the same day he tested positive.
University Spokesperson John Beckman released a statement on Sept. 12 noting that NYU has conducted almost 26,000 tests, since Aug. 1, with a .12% positive rate not counting students from the School of Medicine. According to the University’s publicly available testing data, NYU has conducted nearly 11,000 tests since Aug. 28, with an .18% positive rate. At press time, NYU has 38 cases of COVID-19 across all New York campus locations.
“All of NYU’s courses this fall 2020, regardless of whether they meet in person, are structured to have the capacity for students to attend remotely, so students will be able to keep up with their studies,” the statement reads.
Beckman’s press release states that all Rubin residents “are being asked” to quarantine. Ciotoli’s email was a strict warning to Rubin residents: “If you are out and about right now — whether in another NYU building or enjoying NYC, you must return to Rubin Hall immediately.”
“While quarantining, you must stay in your room all the time,” Ciotoli’s email continues. “You may not go to class, or go to get take-out, or go for a walk or exercise. You may not visit other people’s rooms, common areas, or other spaces within Rubin Hall. You may leave your room only for a medical appointment — no other reason.”
While a WSN reporter was at Rubin at around 9 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 12, a white car dropped off an apparent student carrying a backpack and a duffel bag. Outside, an unmarked NYU Department of Public Safety vehicle was parked across the street. One of the hall’s doors was open. Inside, Rubin’s Residence Hall Assistant Director, Ashlee Ruiz, refused to answer questions and advised WSN to contact Beckman.
WSN also saw a guard working at Rubin Hall after the quarantine was announced. Beckman responded neither to questions regarding NYU’s quarantine procedure or protocols for staff who work in the building — nor to any requests for comments directed to University Relations and Public Affairs. Instead he responded to questions posed to Ciotoli, telling WSN that, “the whole point of taking the measures we have in Rubin at this early stage is to avoid an outbreak … The contact tracing protocols ask just the kind of questions you’ve posed, as well as others.”
NYU kept Rubin’s air-conditioned lounge open even after Glover’s case of COVID-19 was identified, as WSN previously reported, but did not notify Rubin residents of Glover’s case.
Several students told WSN that Rubin residents received $210 Grubhub gift cards, bottled waters and bags of snacks from NYU Eats. WSN previously reported on the inadequacy of food served to students quarantining for two weeks after moving in. The students with whom WSN spoke plan to study, catch up on homework, and binge shows; one said the quarantine is truly awful, a few said it’s not that bad.
“NYU is treating us very very well and they prepared for this,” a Rubin resident told WSN via Instagram direct messages (the student didn’t feel comfortable having their name in the news). “We couldn’t have asked for anything more. We are in uncertain times and we’re grateful for everything NYU has done for us from quarantining to now and in the future.”
Evan Kos, a Steinhardt first-year and Rubin resident, echoed this sentiment.
“Given the circumstances, I think NYU is doing a very good job, especially with their focus on public safety,” Kos told WSN over the phone. “And I think they’re doing a great job in prioritizing public safety, despite the fact that we’re not really in as much of a bubble … It’s difficult for them to really have enough power to really stop the spread here.”
Kos, a music major, is taking a keyboard course and was using the practice-room pianos, but will have no access to a piano — much less to the practice room — for the entire quarantine. He emailed his professor on Saturday and hopes she understands — but, he said “there’s not much I can do regardless unless I can use my ASDF GarageBand keyboard, for whatever good that does me.”
However, multiple students, including Kos, were frustrated by NYU’s communication. He got the email with no idea of what to expect; reading through, he saw that four people had tested positive for COVID-19 — and that he, alongside every other Rubin resident, was expected to quarantine for at least three days.
“I’ll say it’s been frustrating because we’ve had an astonishing number of unimportant emails,” he continued. “This one in particular seemed really non-threatening at the surface. But when you read into it, it’s asking a lot and telling a lot in depth. All of the information we need is probably there, but it requires an excessive amount of reading into it and actual effort to receive some basic levels of communication.”
Sixx Orange, a Liberal Studies first-year, agreed.
“At first it was not great communication, as in we never [really] heard about the cases except through other students,” Orange said. “Today we got the email about the positive cases and their course of action. It was pretty clear, not great, but clear.”
A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Sept. 14, e-print edition. Email Matthew Fischetti and Trace Miller at [email protected]