At Appalachian State University, a cluster was associated with the football team. Iowa State University said 175 students tested positive for the virus — about 2.2% of those tested — during move-in.
“It’s just extremely difficult to consider yourself to be in a bubble when there is a very high level of community spread around you or when people are coming from all over the country and congregating on college campuses,” said Dr. Leana Wen, the former Baltimore City Health Commissioner. “You can’t keep coronavirus out.”
While older Americans and those with underlying conditions are at greater risk of severe illness, health officials have emphasized it’s not only those populations that should be cautious.
And younger people who may recover from the virus with minimal symptoms and in many cases don’t require hospitalization, still can have “residual symptoms for weeks and sometimes month,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
“We’d better be careful when we say ‘Young people who don’t wind up in the hospital are fine, let them get infected, it’s OK.’ No, it’s not OK,” Fauci said during an American Society for Microbiology briefing on Monday.
14 students asked to leave Drake University campus
Some university leaders made it clear from early on that there will be zero tolerance when it comes to violating safety guidelines.
Fourteen Drake University students were asked to leave the campus for two weeks after violating an agreement signed by students that outlined health and safety protocols for the year.
Several of the students “are now facing repercussions through the Code of Student Conduct,” said a letter from the Dean of Students Jerry Parker.
“This message is not intended to call out the students involved — it is a reminder that we must hold each other accountability,” Parker wrote.
The letter echoes the sentiment of another university president, who sent a stern warning to students who don’t follow safety guidelines.
Universities change class plans
Rising cases have led some colleges to scrap plans for in-person learning to start the school year.
All undergraduate classes at the University of Notre Dame will be remote for the next two weeks as the university tries to get a recent spike in coronavirus cases under control, the president announced this week. Michigan State University classes will begin remotely for all undergraduates, President Samuel L. Stanley announced.
“In just the past week (Aug. 10-16), we have seen COVID-19 positivity rate rise from 2.8% to 13.6% at Campus Health. As of this morning, we have tested 954 students and have 177 in isolation and 349 in quarantine, both on and off campus,” the letter said.
The school said it still plans to play sports this fall, despite no longer holding in-person classes. The University of Alabama announced spectators will be allowed at home football games, saying this week it prohibits tailgating on campus but will allow fans to fill up about 20% of the Bryant-Denny Stadium. That venue usually holds about 20,000 fans.
Ithaca College, in New York, which previously pushed back its fall in-person semester to October, announced this week it was shifting to remote instruction for the entire semester.
Saliva test could be in use within weeks
Meanwhile, SalivaDirect, the test that got the green light from the FDA last week, could be in use by approved labs within the next few weeks, says Anne Wyllie, an epidemiologist at Yale School of Public Health who was part of the team responsible for the protocol.
“It’s been actually very inspiring to see how many labs have already reached out to us — how many are ready and willing to get going with SalivaDirect,” Wyllie told CNN.
This is great news for many Americans who still have to wait several days to receive their results — a waiting period that some health officials have called counterproductive to the country’s efforts to get the virus under control.
“We simplified the test so that it only costs a couple of dollars for reagents, and we expect that labs will only charge about $10 per sample,” said Nathan Grubaugh, a Yale assistant professor of epidemiology.
CNN’s Amanda Watts, Naomi Thomas, Annie Grayer, Jamiel Lynch, Giovanna Van Leeuwen and Jennifer Henderson contributed to this report.