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Some college students face stay-at-home orders as local leaders try to control Covid-19 spread

As colleges and high schools across the US struggle with reopening, many sports programs have been hit with budget cuts and canceled seasons, leaving student athletes in tough positions.

Posted: Sep 19, 2020 10:40 AM
Updated: Sep 19, 2020 7:30 PM


Hoping to slow an outbreak of Covid-19 cases among its students, a small college in Rhode Island announced a stay-at-home order this week after more than 80 students tested positive for the virus in two days.

'We are out of options,' Providence College President the Rev. Kenneth Sicard said Thursday. 'If we are not successful, we will have no alternative other than to shut down our campus for the remainder of the fall semester.'

The college moved to remote learning for at least a week, Sicard said Thursday. Indoor and outdoor gatherings and travel to bars, restaurants and neighborhood businesses are not allowed. All students living on campus will be tested for Covid-19 and those living off campus are not allowed to leave their apartments, Sicard said.

Violations will result in 'immediate interim suspensions,' the president said.

By Friday evening, the number of Providence College students who had tested positive had risen to about 120 in three days, according to the Rhode Island Department of Health.

The school's website says just under 5,000 students are enrolled.

Providence College's drastic moves echo similar measures university and local leaders have taken in recent weeks to keep Covid-19 cases at bay. Colleges and universities in all 50 states have reported infections.

In Michigan, local health officials announced a two-week 'staying in place' order for Grand Valley State University students who live in one part of Ottawa County, according to a news article posted on the university's website.

The university said Thursday it would reward students who complete Covid-19 self-assessments every day for the rest of the semester with $200, which would go toward the winter 2021 semester.

And in New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo directed the State Liquor Authority to keep a closer eye on bars and restaurants where college students tend to gather to ensure they're following safety protocols.

So far, they've found 'egregious violations' in several counties, the governor's office said in a statement.

'With significant outbreaks linked to colleges and universities across the nation, these stepped-up efforts will help keep our students, faculty, staff, and the surrounding communities safe,' the statement said.

New Covid-19 cases tick up

The boost in efforts comes as daily Covid-19 cases in the US have been ticking up recently, as the nation's number of lives lost closes in on 200,000.

Following weeks of decline, new daily cases averaged about 39,700 over a week as of Thursday. That average has risen in the past days to 13% higher than the week before, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

More than 6.7 million Americans have now been infected with the virus since the start of the pandemic and more than 199,090 people across the US have lost their lives, according to Johns Hopkins.

The Providence College president said off-campus students who have tested positive should return home if they can while others will be relocated to campus facility or a hotel room.

But leading infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci has warned against colleges sending infected students home, saying they could take the virus with them.

'You send them back to their community, you will in essence be reseeding with individuals who are capable of transmitting infection, many communities throughout the country,' he said earlier this month. 'So it's much, much better to have the capability to put them in a place where they could comfortably recover.'

Despite previous concerns the coming flu season could complicate the US response to the coronavirus, Fauci said this week the country may avert a 'double whammy' of Covid-19 and the flu this fall. Fauci cited Australia, which has experienced an almost nonexistent flu season, in an interview with radio station WTOP.

Dr. Darria Long, an emergency medicine physician at the University of Tennessee Health System, said this was due in part to the ways people have changed to prevent spreading Covid-19.

'This is a really good sign of what we as individuals and how our behaviors that we're taking to reduce Covid can actually impact flu this year,' she said, citing mask-wearing and social distancing.

But people should not become complacent, Long said, and they should still get flu vaccines. According to Long, about four times as many people got the flu vaccine in Australia this year compared to last year.

'If we do those things, then we can impact the flu season,' she said. But we should 'not let our guard down.'

Covid-19 haunts college sports

Academics aren't the only area of college life affected by the coronavirus. Some schools have seen their efforts to resurrect college sports marred by Covid-19 infections.

Florida State University's head football coach Mike Norvell on Saturday announced he had tested positive for Covid-19. Deputy head coach Chris Thomsen will take over Norvell's duties while he recovers.

'This is unfortunate, but luckily Coach is feeling fine,' said David Coburn, FSU's athletics director. 'We are proceeding with our Covid protocols as we would with any other case. Coach is isolated, and university tracing staff is handling the contact tracing as they normally do. We will continue to test staff and student-athletes as we have been.'

Several dozen Michigan State University student-athletes have tested positive, the school announced Friday. Out of 376 athletes tested between September 7 and 14, 45 tested positive. One of 24 staff members tested positive, the school said.

And a highly anticipated matchup Saturday between Baylor and Houston was postponed as a result of Covid-19 cases on the Baylor team, the universities announced Friday. Baylor was unable to meet the Big 12 Conference's stipulations that a team must have at least 53 players available to compete. It was the third game postponed in as many weeks for Houston due to Covid-19.

Meantime, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommended that young athletes who had moderate Covid-19 symptoms should get an electrocardiogram, or EKG, and potentially be referred to a cardiologist to determine whether they're well enough to play.

The AAP's updated guidance for children and teens who play sports clarified that they should not show symptoms of Covid-19 for 14 days and obtain clearance from a primary care physician before returning to practice and competitions.

'Parents, children and coaches need to make safety protocols a priority,' said Dr. Susannah Briskin, one of the authors of the guidance, said.

The virus hits some communities harder

Communities of color have already been hit much harder by the pandemic in the US.

'American Indians and Alaskan Natives, and African Americans have been hospitalized at rates 3.5 times higher than Whites,' US Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams said Thursday.

'Hospitalization rates are three times higher for Hispanics compared to Whites,' he added.

The pandemic, Adams said, has both exploited and exacerbated the health disparities that exist throughout the country and has also highlighted structural conditions that contribute to those disparities.

'Social distancing and teleworking are critical to preventing spread of coronavirus, yet only one in five African Americans and one in six Hispanic Americans have a job that allows him to work from home,' Adams said.

People of color are also more likely to live in 'densely packed urban areas' and in multi-generational homes, he said, and take public transportation.

'Combined, these and other factors create a greater risk for spread of a highly contagious disease like Covid-19,' he added.

New York Coronavirus Cases

County data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 493832

Reported Deaths: 33418
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Queens760577290
Kings743397382
Bronx548924985
Nassau492032208
Suffolk485622019
Westchester400411470
New York356103192
Rockland17635683
Richmond170041094
Orange13413505
Erie12782713
Monroe7070300
Dutchess5421163
Onondaga5277207
Albany3549136
Broome333083
Oneida2670128
Ulster245995
Niagara2032101
Putnam178863
Sullivan172548
Chemung15443
Schenectady153950
Saratoga129517
Rensselaer107342
Steuben95157
Chautauqua87713
Columbia66938
Ontario63535
Oswego6094
Tompkins5930
Madison55717
Tioga54930
Cortland4960
Greene48918
Cattaraugus4556
Warren44833
Wayne4325
Orleans38554
Herkimer38410
Otsego3845
St. Lawrence3824
Genesee3795
Chenango3657
Fulton36124
Cayuga3522
Washington33014
Livingston2728
Allegany2691
Montgomery2614
Clinton2365
Jefferson1990
Essex1960
Wyoming1795
Delaware1687
Seneca1403
Schuyler1150
Yates1117
Schoharie1070
Lewis920
Franklin790
Hamilton160
Unassigned020
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