As colleges and universities return for in-person classes, all eyes have been on whether communal learning will lead to COVID-19 outbreaks. The answer is clear in at least one state. "More than 7,000 college-age people in Missouri have tested positive for the coronavirus since classes resumed in mid-August, fueling spikes in confirmed cases in the state's college towns," said Gov. Mike Parson, reports the AP. "Recent single-day positive test rates in some college towns have been as high as 45% for people in the 18-24 age group, Parson said. That's more than eight times the national positivity rate of 5.5% for people of all ages…."
"Parson said none of the college-age students have become seriously ill," continued the AP, "but he warned that they can spread the disease to more vulnerable people such as the elderly." Read on, and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus.
Missouri is a Hot Zone
The statistic continues a run of bad news for the state. Missouri is nearing its record high in cases set the week leading up to August 1. This week they reported 9,473 new cases and 97 deaths with a positivity rate of over 13 percent. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, listed the state as one of seven that need to remain on alert and observe precautions going into Labor Day weekend, along with South Dakota, North Dakota, Iowa, Arkansas, Indiana and Illinois.
Meanwhile the White House Coronavirus Task Force recommended a mask mandate for Missouri, as well as college guidelines, in a report this week. "University towns need a comprehensive plan that scales immediately for testing all returning students with routine surveillance testing to immediately identify new cases and outbreaks and isolate and quarantine," the report says. Also: "Bars must be closed."
Dr. Fauci Advises Students Stay on Campus if They Test Positive
Dr. Fauci explained on the Today Show that he is adamantly against closing up schools and sending kids home, fearing it could worsen the pandemic. "It's the worst thing you can do," he pointed out.
However, he also doesn't recommend leaving potentially infected students in the general population either. "Keep them at the university in a place that's sequestered enough from the other students."
So why is he so against sending them home? Because most college students are from cities and states not in the general vicinity as their school, Dr. Fauci is worried that they may carry the virus back with them. "Don't have them go home because they could be spreading in their home state."
Some of the Missouri institutions are implementing strict measures to slow the spread. "At Mizzou, the school is punishing 330 students for violating COVID-19 safety rules, with penalties as stiff as a semester-long suspension," reports the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "At the University of Missouri-St. Louis campus students are required to wear face coverings when entering or occupying a physical building or facility owned, operated or managed by the university."
As for yourself, do everything you can to prevent getting—and spreading—COVID-19 in the first place: Mask up, get tested if you think you have coronavirus, avoid crowds (and bars, and house parties), practice social distancing, only run essential errands, wash your hands regularly, disinfect frequently touched surfaces, and to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.