Richmond city councilwoman claims VCU is increasing risk for COVID-19 in her district


RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — As Virginia Commonwealth University grapples with an increasing number of COVID 19 cases among students and staff, a Richmond city councilwoman is calling on the university to make big changes. 

Councilwoman Stephanie Lynch of Richmond’s 5th district told 8News a good majority of VCU’s students live in her district.

She says many of them are in neighborhoods like Randolph, where there are also several senior communities. Lynch agrees with some VCU students by saying the parties on and near VCU’s campus are a big part of the problem.

On Thursday, the university reported 25 cases among students and 11 among staff. On Sunday, the number rose to 58 students and 12 staff. As of Monday, 59 students and 13 staff have the virus.

On Thursday, VCU sent an email to the community stating that eight positive COVID 19 cases are linked to one party. 

As the number of cases doubled among students, VCU spokesperson Michael Porter said “Many of VCU’s COVID-19 cases are associated with one cluster and the majority of the confirmed COVID-19 cases (73%) are in isolation on campus,” according to an email from Porter to 8News reporter Alex Thorson. 8News asked how many more, if any, of the new cases since Thursday can be attributed to the same party. We are waiting for a reply. 

8News also asked VCU  at what point they would make the call to send students home and go fully virtual.

“VCU’s Public Health Response Team would make recommendations about operational changes on campus due to COVID-19 based on a number of factors, including prevalence of COVID-19 on campus and in the Richmond area, testing availability, and available hospital and isolation space,” Porter said.

Councilwoman Lynch spoke out on Twitter Monday, also calling on the university to release a prevention plan.

“It is highly concerning,” Lynch told 8News Monday. “I think we need to be a little more specific with our plans here and really find out how we’re gonna mitigate and stop this particular spread.”

The councilwoman said she’s spoken with people in the neighborhood and other neighborhoods who tell her they aren’t comfortable with students back on campus. One of them is Cora Hayes.

“I know some people who’ve had it, I know some people who’ve passed away from it. This is nothing to be played with,” she told 8News. Hayes lives in the Randolph community.

Being high risk for COVID-19, she said she’s worried for her safety living so close to an active campus, but also fears for students’ safety. She said some of her friends have severely battled the virus.”I mean, they had to learn how to walk, how to bathe themselves, learn how to eat again, and I don’t want to see any of these young students which are our future, to have to go through that.”


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