Universities in at least 19 states have reported outbreaks, despite campus health protocols. Many outbreaks are linked to large group gatherings like parties, which has led some schools to suspend students and organizations for breaking social distancing rules on and off campus.
The University of Notre Dame and the University of Alabama both have seen an increase in Covid-19 cases on their campuses. Notre Dame has switched to online education, according to her website. Meanwhile, local and university police at the University of Alabama will team up to monitor bars, restaurants and off-campus housing to ensure that the city’s Covid-19 orders and guidelines for university are respected, said university president Stuart R. Bell.
“Violations of our health and safety protocols, both on and off campus, are subject to severe disciplinary action, up to and including suspension from the AU,” Bell wrote in a letter to the campus community on Sunday.
The University of Kentucky began a second phase of testing on Sunday after a positivity rate of around 3% for Covid-19 among fraternities and sororities in initial testing, triple the positivity rate of around 1% for the student population in general. And Central Michigan University has threatened to fine or suspend students who organize large gatherings.
Despite the increase in cases, University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto cautioned against blaming students for the higher rate of positivity on the school campus.
“Let me be clear: this is not an act to blame the students who reside in these institutions or who belong to these organizations,” he wrote. “We believe that a number of factors associated with collective living spaces likely contributed to the high rates of positivity in these residences.
In the United States, there are 5.7 million cases of coronavirus and more than 176,000 people have died, according to the Johns Hopkins University database.
Concerns and questions about back to school
On the Kindergarten to Grade 12 front, school districts are still trying to figure out how to navigate the school year during the pandemic.
Many schools across the country have implemented increased measures to protect students and staff from the virus, even though researchers are still learning how the virus is spread to young children.
The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated their school guidelines on Friday emphasizing the importance of keeping schools open if possible. A big change in the guidelines has been the way schools can handle a positive case.
The CDC has encouraged schools to work closely with local and public health leaders if there is an infected person on campus. But rather than shutting everything down immediately for a long period of time, the guidelines say that one option is an initial short-term suspension of classes and the cancellation of extracurricular events and activities, so public health officials can have control. time they need to determine. the extent of infections.
If schools use a pod system, keeping some students together, administrators may only need to shut down certain parts of the building where an infected person was.
A Michigan school district canceled all classes and extracurricular activities for Monday – its first day of school – after “receiving a threat” on Sunday, according to an alert on the district’s website.
The Leslie Public School District did not provide details on the nature of the threat, but said it would work with law enforcement to assess the threat.
In Florida, a 6-year-old girl has become the youngest in the state to die of complications from coronavirus. Health officials say they still do not know if the child contracted the virus from a known case or if it was linked to travel.
Convalescent plasma for Covid-19 treatment
The US Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency use authorization for convalescent plasma for the treatment of Covid-19 in hospitalized patients on Sunday.
Convalescent plasma is created from the blood of people who have recovered from Covid-19, and it has shown some success in two other deadly coronaviruses: MERS and SARS. It has also been used to treat influenza and Ebola.
The agency said it had concluded that it may be effective in treating Covid-19 and that “the known and potential benefits of the product outweigh the known and potential risks of the product.”
Some experts, however, claim that there is not enough hard data to support the use of plasma.
“The problem is, we don’t really have enough data to really understand how effective convalescent plasma is,” said Dr. Jonathan Reiner, professor of medicine at George Washington University and CNN medical analyst on Sunday. .
Art Caplan, founding chief of the division of medical ethics at the NYU School of Medicine, told CNN he was concerned about whether there is a sufficient amount of convalescent plasma, which relies on donations from survivors. of Covid-19.
“We’re going to have a plasma gold rush, with patients demanding it and doctors demanding it for their patients,” said Caplan.
Trump administration officials cited a study conducted by the Mayo Clinic that showed a 35% improvement in survival in people who received the highest doses of the treatment early in their illness compared to those who were processed later.
FDA Commissioner Dr Stephen Hahn said studies have shown convalescent plasma to be safe and the treatment has been given to patients with infectious diseases for over a hundred years.
“There was a very good reason why it might work,” Hahn said during a White House briefing held in part on Sunday to announce the emergency use authorization. “According to the independent judgment of experts and expert scientists from the FDA who have reviewed the totality of the data … over a dozen published studies … these scientists concluded that the convalescent plasma Covid-19 is safe and shows efficacy promising, thus meeting the criteria for an emergency use authorization. ”