NU students line up for COVID tests on Monday, Jan. 3. (Jeff Hirsh photo)

Northwestern University is considering having students who test positive for COVID-19 temporarily have a roommate who has also tested positive for the virus.

If this does happen, it would be for residence hall or fraternity/sorority students when they are placed in COVID-isolation dormitory rooms. The assignments would take place if there are too many students with the virus, and not enough isolation rooms for everyone to have a single.

That has not happened yet. NU spokesperson Jon Yates tells Evanston Now that there are currently no COVID-positive students rooming together.

Isolation housing is for those who test positive. Quarantine housing is for those exposed to COVID, but not infected themselves.

Yates says “Only students in isolation (those who have tested positive) could have roommates if it becomes necessary. Students in quarantine (close contact) will not.”

Students in isolation would return to their normal housing unit once their isolation period (usually five days) is concluded and they test negative for the virus.

COVID cases have been increasing rapidly in recent days. For the week of December 31-January 6, 445 undergraduate students (the primary dormitory population base) tested positive, according to the NU Dashboard.

Just two months prior, October 29-November 4, only eight new cases among undergrads were reported.

Jeff Hirsh joined the Evanston Now reporting team in 2020 after a 40-year award-winning career as a broadcast journalist in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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