O’Donnell Hall quarantined students share their experience

The third floor of O’Donnell Hall was instructed to quarantine last Friday March 5 after a cluster of positive COVID-19 cases was discovered. Since then, O’Donnell residents said the atmosphere in the residence hall isn’t the same. 

“It felt like the whole building was gone, the halls were dead silent. It honestly threw the whole vibe off,” Viviana Garcia, first-year in the College of Engineering and O’Donnell resident, said. 

The decision to quarantine the select number of students was communicated through a Marquette Today notice sent out to all students

“In coordination with the Milwaukee Health Department, Marquette University will transport residents of the third floor of O’Donnell Hall to a near-campus quarantine location for 14 days beginning at 9:30 p.m. Friday March 5….” the statement said.

O’Donnell Hall is gendered by floor. The first two floors are female students and the third floor is all male students. 

The notification to quarantine came after a day after residents on the third floor were notified that they had been selected for targeted COVID-19 testing. Residents were then tested for COVID-19 at the on-campus testing clinic. 

Targeted testing is slightly different from surveillance testing. Surveillance testing is when individuals are randomly selected to be tested for COVID-19 without any reason to believe they may have it. Targeted testing is when an individual or groups are tested, with the belief that they may have been in contact with the virus.

At 8 p.m. the following day the third floor of O’Donnell Hall was instructed to quarantine at an off-campus quarantine location: The Ambassador Hotel. Buses arrived to transport students and all third floor students were gone by the end of the night.

“I didn’t like the way that things had been communicated because I wasn’t expecting to have to quarantine. I think a lot of us weren’t expecting to have to quarantine,” Jordan Mewhorter, first-year student and resident of O’Donnell, said in a Marquette Now newscast

This is the first instance of a residence hall quarantining this semester. It’s also the first time that Marquette has only quarantined a single floor of a residence hall. Last semester, both Schroeder Hall and Cobeen Hall had to quarantine in their rooms after a confirmed cluster of positive COVID-19 cases.

The first two floors of O’Donnell underwent surveillance COVID-19 testing on Monday March 8, after the third floor quarantine. The results of those tests confirmed that the cluster of COVID-19 cases hadn’t spread to the first two floors and the rest of O’Donnell did not have to quarantine.

“Overall, the situation is okay, at least the rest of us didn’t have to be quarantined,” Elizabeth Gorney, first-year in the College of Arts & Sciences and O’Donnell resident, said.

O’Donnell residents in quarantine that tested negative for COVID-19 have been allowed to go outside. Throughout their first week of quarantine, Milwaukee experienced a few sunny days and temperatures in the mid- 60’s. 

“I think being able to go outside has been huge. You don’t feel that isolation that you might have felt if you had to quarantine during the winter,” Mewhorter said.

While the majority of third-floor residents are still in quarantine, a number of residents have been allowed to return. These are mainly students that were quarantining at other spaces when the O’Donnell quarantine was announced. These students completed their mandatory isolation and have returned to living in O’Donnell. 

“There’s about five (3rd-floor residents) living there right now,” Morgan Greiber, senior in the College of Arts & Sciences and O’Donnell Resident Assistant, said. 

The rest of the O’Donnell residents are scheduled to be released from quarantine this Saturday, March 20, at 7 a.m.

This story was written by Megan Woolard. She can be reached at megan.woolard@marquette.edu