- A new small study suggests reopening college campuses led to local coronavirus outbreaks, which schools were primarily able to manage while their home counties were less successful.
- The researchers, which examined 30 universities, found cases spiked in the first two weeks of classes at 14 campuses.
- More than half of the colleges studied saw new cases peak between mid-August and mid-October, when new infections in the U.S. were subsiding, suggesting campus reopenings drove the spread.
The paper indicates that college campuses can quickly become hotbeds for the virus. By the end of the fall term, more than 10% of the population at six studied institutions tested positive for the coronavirus. That’s double the national average, the researchers wrote.
Colleges also risk spreading the virus in their local communities. At 17 of the studied institutions, campus outbreaks were followed by a peak in new infections in their home counties within two weeks. In Indiana, the researchers wrote that an attack at the University of Notre Dame had “superspreading-like effects” on its county. To stem rising cases early during the fall term, the university shifted classes online for two weeks. Although colleges successfully suppressed outbreaks, the researchers explained, their surrounding communities couldn’t control the spread of infection.