COVID-19 Infections Rising Among Young People on US University Campuses

Reports of COVID-19 cases are growing on university campuses as schools reopen for the fall semester.FILE – People remove belongings on campus at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, N.C., March 18, 2020.Oklahoma State University announced Aug. 15 there were Patrons stand on the Bear Trap’s rooftop bar on The Strip, the University of Alabama’s bar scene, Aug. 15, 2020, in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.The simulation studied the spread of a highly transmissible virus, such as COVID-19, at reasonably large research university and monitored the efficacy of interventions, such as contact tracing, mask-wearing, online instruction, etc.It consisted of 20,000 students and 2,500 instructors who interacted daily for 100 days.The results of Gressman and Peck’s model analyzed that a scenario with no interventions from the university would result in the number of people initially infected doubling every 2.185 days.In other words, more than 2,000 people would be infected within 30 days of the first infection, and about 20,126 people, or 89.4% of the total campus population, would end up infected.The model also studied the outcome of standard intervention, which would be a combination of quarantine and contact tracing, universal mask-wearing, daily randomized testing of 3% of the university community, and transitioning all classes with 30 or more students to online-only interaction.Full standard intervention measures in universities “avoid the epidemic tipping point altogether” and keeps cumulative infections below 66 (out of 22,500) in more than 95% of simulations, according to the study.Gressman and Peck wrote that allowing large in-person courses would increase infections from 43 to 538, and online classes with more than 30 students was the most effective at keeping infection rates low.Parents and students arrive in their vehicles for health screenings and temperature checks before moving into residence halls at West Virginia State University campus, July 31, 2020, in Institute, West Virginia.Requiring masks was moderately effective: not requiring masks would increase median infections to 131, they wrote. Random testing and contact tracing had the lowest impact, with removing either measures increasing infections to 50 and 47, respectively.Researchers Kim Weeden and Benjamin Cornwell from Cornell University in New York analyzed how students are interconnected on a college campus and the implications of resuming in-person instruction during the coronavirus pandemic. Weeden and Cornwell’s study stated that students are “highly interconnected” through their courses and that the nature of enrollment networks makes student populations susceptible to high rates of transmissions. 

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