Infectious Disease

COVID-19 rose in U.S. states the place universities held face-to-face programs

January 07, 2021

2 min read

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Districts in the United States with large colleges or universities with in-person learning saw cases of COVID-19 rise more than 50%, while those with distance learning saw a decrease in cases, researchers reported.

Andrew J. Leidner, PhD, an economist on the CDC COVID-19 Response Team, and colleagues used the National Center for Education Statistics’ integrated data system for post-secondary education to identify nonprofit colleges and universities with at least 20,000 students.

Their analysis spanned 101 US states – those where classes began between July 27 and August 28. They compared the average estimates of COVID-19 incidence, test rates, percentages of test positivity, and hotspot status in counties with distance learning at the county level (22)) to people with in-person tuition (79).

According to the study, tests in the first 21 days of class increased 14.1% compared to the 21 days before class began in countries with face-to-face learning. In countries with distance learning, it increased by 4.2%.

The authors also reported that the mean test positivity decreased by 1.8% in countries with distance learning, while it increased by 1.1% in countries with face-to-face teaching.

The COVID-19 incidence rose 56.2% in countries with face-to-face teaching, compared to a 17.9% decrease in countries with distance learning, Leidner and colleagues reported.

In a second study Kristyn E. Vang, MPH, an epidemiologist for the Arkansas Department of Health, and colleagues noted that a rapid increase in COVID-19 cases at an undisclosed university in Arkansas was linked to living environments and community activity, primarily related to fraternities and sorority pledges were.

A total of 965 COVID-19 cases occurred in the first two weeks of class, including 699 (72%) confirmed and 266 (28%) probable cases, the researchers reported. Most (70%) of the patients were women and almost all (97%) were 18 to 24 years old. Five cases occurred among faculties or staff.

Among the patients, 5% received classroom instruction, 31% participated in either a fraternity or sorority activity, and 15% lived in either a fraternity or sorority house. An analysis linked 565 (59%) cases to 56 apartments, including 16 dormitories, 20 apartments and houses, and 20 brother or sisterhood houses, according to Vang and colleagues.

Of the 565 cases, 471 (83%) were associated with one large, connected cluster and the others with eight smaller, unaffiliated congregations. Of these, 54 gatherings were identified, including 27 gatherings (50%) attended by at least five people with COVID-19 cases.

At least one person in 44 (81%) of the congregations attended face-to-face training and at least one person in each of the 49 congregations (91%) reported having participated in a fraternity or sorority activity. The meetings averaged 20.3 cases.

References:

Leidner AJ et al. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2021; doi: 10.15585 / mmwr.mm7001a4.

Vang KE et al. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2021; doi: 10.15585 / mmwr.mm7001a5.

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