In College Towns Covid-19 Cases Surge, But Symptoms and Deaths Have Not (Yet) Appeared

Communities around the nation are learning a new rule for the fall semester: when college students return to campus, Covid-19 cases surge.

The case increases in counties where students have returned to campus are highly concerning but not yet driving increased deaths or symptoms based on a review of press reports, public data, and Google Trends symptom searches.

Cases

Chart 1: Penn State University is in Centre County, PA. Students began arriving back on campus on August 17th, a week before new cases surged.

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Source: Covid Act Now — http://covidactnow.org/us/pa/county/centre_county?s=1006211

Chart 2: Cornell University and Ithaca College are in Tompkins County, NY. Cornell residence halls re-opened on August 23rd, when infection rate spiked.

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Source: Covid Act Now — https://covidactnow.org/us/ny/county/tompkins_county?s=1006211

Chart 3: Texas A&M University is in Brazos County, TX and started classes on August 19th. You guessed it: that’s when infection rate surged.

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Source: Covid Act Now — https://covidactnow.org/us/tx/county/brazos_county?s=1006211

Chart 4: The Ohio State University is in Franklin County, OH and started Fall classes in late August. Infection rate is trending up.

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Source: Covid Act Now — https://covidactnow.org/us/oh/county/franklin_county?s=1006211

Symptoms

This suggests that in the early going these campus cases may be asymptomatic or at least less symptomatic than with the public at large. The immediate concerns seem to be the communities around students, both their families at home and the towns around campuses.

However, counter to the early conventional wisdom on Covid-19, the long term impact on younger people is also a major concern according to public health professionals and the medical community. Dr. Anthony Fauci recently said that the long term impacts on young people are “really troublesome.”

Deaths

In … 203 counties in the country where students comprise at least 10 percent of the population, about half experienced their worst weeks of the pandemic since Aug. 1. In about half of those, figures showed the number of new infections is peaking right now.

Despite the surge in cases, there has been no uptick in deaths in college communities, data shows. This suggests that most of the infections are stemming from campuses, since young people who contract the virus are far less likely to die than older people. However, leaders fear that young people who are infected will contribute to a spread of the virus throughout the community.

Political Strategy for a digital world. Founder and President at Measured Campaigns

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