American Coronavirus: As students return to campus, colleges attempt to prevent and combat cases of Covid-19

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(CNN) Return to college campuses this month offered insight into the coronavirus pandemic radically remodeled university experience.

While U.S. leaders still strive to enforce safety guidelines in their communities, college leaders have restructured the entire fall semester in hopes of avoiding epidemics and a second shutdown. Institutions that have chosen not to start online-only courses have adopted new features for the move in, including temperature checks, coronavirus testing, mandatory quarantines, plexiglass dividers and other additions intended for minimize contact between students and staff.

Some experts fear that this is not enough to control the virus that is still raging in parts of the country. More than 5.3 million Americans have been infected and at least 169,481 have died.

“Are colleges generally safe to open at this time?” I would probably say no, ”said Dr. James Phillips, physician and assistant professor at George Washington University Hospital. “When you look at high schools, there is a much more controlled environment for students and teachers. ”

School reopens have also made headlines as districts across the country welcome students back to class and some have had to readjust their plans following positive cases. According to new guidelines from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number and rate of coronavirus cases in children “rose steadily” from March through July.

In universities, where young groups of people have access to newfound freedom, said Phillips, “there are so many other variables that are going to make it incredibly difficult to keep the virus out of classrooms and these living spaces. . . ”

In Pennsylvania, the president of Villanova University sent a stern warning to students this week, saying that those who choose not to follow health guidelines like washing their hands and wearing a mask at any time will be “SENT HOME”.

“If you can’t or don’t want to embark on this new way of doing things, then you shouldn’t be here. It’s as simple as that.

Coronavirus: your questions, answers

Universities report cases of Covid-19

Several campuses have already reported new cases.

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill said on Saturday that a cluster of cases was identified in the Sigma Nu fraternity. The announcement comes a day after the university announced that the clusters had been identified in the community of Ehringhaus and the towers of Granville.

Donde Plowman, chancellor of the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, said there were a total of 28 active cases, including 20 students and eight employees. More than 150 people went into self-isolation last week, most of them students and non-residential workers.

“Part of what we look at in making decisions about campus operations is our ability to isolate and quarantine students in residence, as well as track contact tracing,” Plowman said.

In Ohio, Cedarville University confirmed a student tested positive and was isolated on campus, CNN affiliate WCMH reported.

“The student is in good condition and will remain isolated during his recovery,” President Thomas White wrote in a letter, according to the affiliate. “Students who may have been exposed are in quarantine, monitoring symptoms. ”

The president said the student was the first and only case on campus.

Track the virus

FDA gives green light to saliva test

Meanwhile, the United States Food and Drug Administration has announced that it has granted emergency use authorization for a diagnostic test for the coronavirus that uses a new, inexpensive method of detecting the virus through samples. of saliva.

This is good news: some Americans still have to wait days to receive their test results and now groups like the American Medical Association are calling for guidelines that help speed up Americans who need their tests and results anyway. emergency.

With the newly authorized test, saliva is self-collected, under the observation of a healthcare professional, in a sterile container without the use of a swab or specific collection device. This test can give results in under three hours, the researchers say, and up to 92 samples can be tested at a time.

As for the cost: The researchers said they expected the labs to charge around $ 10 per sample.

The NBA was among the groups that funded research for the test and is currently using the method to test asymptomatic people for the virus.

CNN’s Kay Jones and Lauren Mascaren contributed to this report.

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