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Students in greek houses have been breaking quarantine, Uber drivers say


A hand holds a phone displaying the Uber app. Many students under quarantine in greek housing have been requesting Uber rides when leaving and coming back their houses. Tribune News Service

Multiple students who live in greek houses that are supposed to be under quarantine have requested Uber rides to both leave and return to their houses, Uber drivers said.

Paul Solt, an Uber driver in Bloomington, said he receives four to six ride requests per night from greek houses that are supposed to be under quarantine. Another Uber driver, Anthony Keene, said in one night he got requests from seven houses that are supposed to be under quarantine.

“If we decline a ride basically they will just send it to the next closest driver and that will continue until someone accepts it,” Solt said.

While Solt has been creating and updating a list of which houses are under quarantine and posting that list in the Bloomington Uber and Lyft drivers Facebook page, he said drivers from out of town may unknowingly accept the requests.

“These people who want to get out are getting out,” Solt said. “I know that because sometimes I get the call to take them back.”

In these cases, Solt said students will say they’ve tested negative or their quarantine is over when the website on IU’s Office of Sorority and Fraternity Life says their house is still under quarantine.

Students breaking quarantine pose a high risk to the community, Dr. Lana Dbeibo, an infectious disease physician, said. Even if students test negative, if their house is under quarantine they shouldn’t leave, Dbeibo said. She said COVID-19 tests can show false negatives.

“People in quarantine should think of themselves as potentially positive,” Dbeibo said. “They can infect others for sure.”

Students breaking quarantine could face sanctions, including expulsion, IU spokesperson Chuck Carney said.

“Students may be held accountable through the student conduct process and will put their student status in jeopardy if they violate the health protocols that they agreed to follow at the beginning of this semester,” Carney said.

Carney said this applies to greek houses, but since they are privately-owned houses, their management and leadership should be ensuring everyone follows the protocol as well. 

As a 54 year old with diabetes, Keene said he is worried about his personal health. He’s frustrated students aren’t taking this more seriously. One student even bragged about having COVID-19 in his car, he said, at which point he made them get out of the car and canceled their ride.

Health isn’t the only risk COVID-19 poses to him. Having to quarantine for two weeks would mean he would lose thousands of dollars in income, Keene said. Unlike more traditional jobs, Uber doesn’t provide paid or sick leave.

Solt said he would also lose thousands of dollars in income if he had to quarantine for two weeks. He said he is also concerned his household, family and friends would all be at risk.

“While I can appreciate the reasons that anyone would go stir crazy being stuck in a room for 14 days, the consequences and the ripple effect of what happens if somebody who may be positive knowingly goes out in public just doesn’t register with some people,” Solt said.

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