100 college towns become new Covid-19 hotspots: NYT

By The SATimes News Service

New York: About 100 college communities in the US have witnessed a high rate of Covid-19 cases in recent weeks as students have returned for the fall semester, making the campuses and the surrounding areas a new hotspot for virus transmission, a media report said.

According to a New York Times review of 203 counties where students comprise at least 10 per cent of the population, about half have experienced their worst weeks of the pandemic since Aug.1, with figures showing the number of new infections is peaking right now, Xinhua news agency reported on Tuesday.

The University of Iowa, which faced a budget shortfall of at least $75 million because of the pandemic, had taken precautions, and only about a quarter of classes would be delivered in person after thousands of students came back, said the report.

“But each fresh face in town could also carry the virus, and more than 26,000 area residents were university employees.”

Meanwhile, the university’s decision to hold in-person classes drew criticism from some faculty.

“We’re scared for our health and yours,” one group of instructors wrote in an open letter to students in July, according to the New York Times.

“The pandemic has hurt colleges’ finances in multiple ways, adding pressure on many schools to bring students back to campus. It has caused enrolment declines as students have opted for gap years or chosen to stay closer to home, added substantial costs for safety measures, reduced revenue from student room and board and canceled money-generating athletic events,” said the report.

However, epidemiologists have warned that, even with exceptional contact tracing, it would be difficult to completely contain the virus on a campus when students shop, eat and drink in town, and local residents work at the college, said the newspaper.


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