Two students test positive for COVID-19 at UNM-Taos

Two students at the UNM-Taos campus self-reported as having tested positive for COVID-19, according to the university.

Update: Sept. 12, 8:15 a.m.

Two students attending in-person classes at University of New Mexico-Taos have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, according to a press release from the university Friday (Sept. 4).

Those two students were both asymptomatic, but had self-reported to the university their positive tests on Sept. 2.

Anita Bringas, strategic support manager at UNM-Taos, said that the two students were in separate classes, though they were in the same building. She was unable to disclose the ages and sex of the students who tested positive, citing the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.

"It is believed that the cases are unrelated – the two students contracted the virus from different sources, both outside of campus facilities," Bringas said in an email to Taos News.

One of the two students, Bringas said, has since been cleared by the New Mexico Department of Health and the university. 

According to UNM-Taos, those two students had entered "and occupied only one building."

Bringas said that the building affected – Rio Grande Hall – was closed temporarily to allow facilities management and custodial staff to disinfect it. The building has since reopened. 

According to the New Mexico Higher Education Department, universities must report COVID-19 tests to state health officials – which UNM-Taos has already done.

The university had deployed rapid response procedures, and "established communications with the students, UNM Main Campus, the New Mexico Department of Health, and Holy Cross Medical Center in order to ensure proper reporting, contact tracing, testing, and, subsequent quarantine protocols," according to the press release.

Bringas said 13 students and staff were tested that had come in contact with the two students who tested positive, and as of Saturday (Sept. 12) all test results came back negative.

In following with the state's COVID Safe Practices guidelines, UNM-Taos said that it sent out a daily email screening to students taking in-person courses that asks if they are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. The university is also checking the temperature of students and staff when they arrive, enforcing mask-wearing, and offering smaller class sizes so that there is six-feet between those on campus.

Classes began on Aug. 17 for UNM-Taos and, according to Bringas, there are 17 courses taking place in-person this semester.

As of Sept. 10, there have been 39 cumulative positive COVID-19 tests at UNM. Thirty-four of those were reported on main campus in Albuquerque, three on the Gallup campus, and just one case each on the Taos and Valencia campuses. However, UNM-Taos had reported two positive cases of COVID-19.

In Taos County, there has been 122 cases of COVID-19 to date. The 20-29-year-old age range has the highest amount of cases in the county at 26.

There have been three deaths in the county attributed to complications from COVID-19 and 76 people are reported by the state as having recovered.

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