Bates College in Lewiston was quiet Wednesday morning. Officials said 16 students with COVID-19 were in isolation housing on the campus.  Steve Collins/Sun Journal

LEWISTON — Bates College is seeing a sharp upturn in the number of students testing positive for COVID-19.

A week ago, the college had one student in housing set aside to isolate anyone with the potentially deadly disease. It had 16 on Wednesday.

That’s three more than it’s ever had since the pandemic began last March. The previous high came in mid-November, when 13 students were in isolation housing.

In addition to the 16 students who have active cases, there are two Bates employees who have active COVID-19 cases.

This semester, a total of 40 students and five staff members have tested positive for the disease. That compares to 25 students and 19 employees infected with COVID-19 during the fall semester.

The rising number of cases on campus follows a warning last week from college officials who told students they had received “a number of reports from neighbors and others regarding off-campus social gatherings where individuals were not adhering to our public health guidelines.”

Joshua McIntosh, vice president for campus life, also noted last week that “more and more students” had been seen “not wearing face coverings or practicing physical distancing.”

Bates tests students three times a week in an effort to keep the disease from spreading. Those who test positive are required to stay in isolation until it is safe for them to return. Close contacts of anyone who tests positive are quarantined in their own rooms.

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