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Opening of universities led to 9% surge in new Covid-19 cases in US: Study

Prashasti Awasthi Mumbai | Updated on October 19, 2020 Published on October 19, 2020

A new study that aimed to find out the role of young adults in spreading the coronavirus, revealed that that the return of college students to universities contributed to a 9 per cent surge of new cases in the US.

This surge took place in a 21-day time frame in college counties, which is consistent across the US, according to the study published on the pre-print server medRxiv.

This comes as the US decided to resume offline classes from grade school to the tertiary level after a prolonged closure.

The study cited the recent data by Davidson College’s Crisis Initiative and stated that only 191 of the 2,958 colleges and universities are entirely online for the fall semester in 2020.

This means that most of the country’s higher education institutions are asking students to resume their classes even when there is no effective drug to contain the spread.

The researchers obtained the data from two publicly available sources: Census divisions, the percentage of the population aged 18-24, and total county population data come from the US Census Bureau; and Covid-19 case counts and deaths from the New York Times Covid-19 database.

The researchers also conducted a retrospective analysis of 12 weeks between June 14 and September 6, 2020.

The findings of the study suggested that college counties have median rates higher than other counties.

The authors wrote: “These findings suggest that despite the efforts of colleges and universities to prepare for a safe return to campus, virus transmission has persisted among college students and is rapidly evolving in ways that have already created new hot spots.”

This comes as health experts cautioned the administration of the further spread of the virus as closed spaces such as classrooms can become an area of super spreaders, as per previous reports.

Furthermore, the researchers believe that the flu season may exacerbate the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, which has now infected over 8.14 million people in the US and claimed over 219,000 lives.

“Prioritising public health demands that until effective vaccines or other anti-viral therapeutics are developed, policy approaches of postsecondary institutions and local county governments will have to become more collaborative and aggressive to control viral transmission,” the research team added.

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Published on October 19, 2020
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