Universities across the U.S. identify COVID-19 case clusters in Greek life housing

Posted at 5:59 AM, Aug 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-21 06:10:36-04

A majority of states are either seeing a decline or very little changes in the number of new daily COVID-19 infections. However, there is a big question on a lot of people’s minds - is it safe to go back to school?

A decline in numbers is a good sign, but federal officials say that does not mean it's time to relax on safety measures - like wearing face masks or social distancing.

As the first day of school approaches for many, teachers are sounding alarms. In Detroit, the teachers union approved a safety strike over fears the city isn't offering enough protection.

For students on campus, rules are strict for good reason. Colleges and universities in more than a dozen states are reporting clusters of cases, some attributed to Greek life.

Greek life housing is not often owned or governed by the universities and are the site of excessive partying on many campuses.

At the University of Connecticut, students were told to leave on-campus housing after hosting an unapproved gathering in a residence hall room. As of Monday, the University of North Carolina said 130 students tested positive for COVID-19, more than 170 were in isolation and close to 350 were in quarantine. UNC reported COVID-19 clusters over three days in dorms, apartments and a fraternity house.

The University of Southern California has reported at least 150 positive COVID-19 cases. Los Angeles-area media reports that dozens of those cases were traced to three or four fraternities near campus.

Lee Norman, a secretary with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, said that, "I've kind of given up a little bit on frat and sorority members quite honestly. If you ask them what should you do to curtail the coronavirus, they can cite it line and verse what is the right thing to do, but they are not doing it. Young people think they're invincible."

More than 13,000 students, faculty and staff members at colleges have been infected with the COVID-19, according to a New York Times database of cases confirmed by schools and government agencies.

COVID-19 cases are declining in 20 states, with very little change in 18 others. Experts say the data provides the best argument for continuing to wear your face masks and continuing to social distance.