COVID-19 uptick at UWM, MU linked to Halloween-related activities

The state's record number of COVID-19 cases during the first week of November is coinciding with surges on both the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Marquette University campuses. 

The entire second-year class of Marquette dental students was quarantined after possible exposure off-campus over the Halloween weekend. 

UWM officials said they, too, have seen an uptick in cases primarily linked to Halloween-related activities -- activities that could impact Thanksgiving, too. 

The countdown is on to Thanksgiving break for college students, but as coronavirus cases surge across Wisconsin and in Milwaukee, some Marquette sophomores say the stress of staying healthy is outweighing their usual excitement ahead of the holiday.

"We’re going back home in two weeks," said Finn Askin. "I genuinely think we should just shut down at this point. All of us have family members that are at high risk at home." 

According to the university's COVID-19 dashboard, 168 students tested positive for the virus between Nov. 2 and 8 -- the highest weekly total since the semester began. 

In this message to students Friday, officials said, "None of these cases on campus were due to transmission in classroom or laboratory settings. The increase in cases came from off-campus gatherings..." 

The response is not sitting well with some students. 

"It’s honestly just kind of crazy to me that they say that there’s been no spread in classes or anything like that because I feel like there’s no way to know if that’s true," said Joey Sullivan.

UW-Milwaukee also marked its highest weekly case count during the first week of November -- with 150 students testing positive.  A spokesperson told FOX6 News 75% are from students who live off-campus, and that cases remain relatively low in residences halls. 

Freshman Grace Kalischefski made sure she had two negative tests after the Halloween weekend. 

"I did both of them just to be double sure," said Kalischefski.

At Marquette, instruction will remain in-person until break. Marquette University police will also be increasing enforcement of off-campus parties. 

Marquette students say they want the school to start mandatory testing next semester. 

UWM currently requires all students living in the residence halls to get tested every other week.