Covid-19 cases surged nationally among 18- to 22-year-olds between Aug. 2 and Sept. 5, according to a report released Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which urged young adults as well as colleges and universities to take precautions to prevent the spread of the virus.
Weekly cases among the age group jumped 55 percent across the country during that time and made up a bigger share of overall cases, according to the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. The agency said the increase in cases couldn’t fully be explained by ramped-up testing as colleges reopened for the fall.
The Northeast saw the biggest spike in virus cases among 18- to 22-year-olds, with a 144 percent increase. Cases in the Midwest among that age group also rose dramatically, with a 123 percent increase.
Also on Tuesday, a public university in North Carolina mourned the death of a student from complications that followed a covid-19 diagnosis.
As colleges across the country resume classes this fall, the incidence of virus cases is being closely watched to see if universities are increasing the spread of the novel coronavirus — and what students and school officials can do to try to prevent that.
About 45 percent of 18- to 22-year-olds are enrolled in college, according to the CDC. Colleges have crafted a wide array of plans, including efforts to starkly reduce communal housing, ramp up testing and persuade students to keep their distance from others. Some schools have seen case numbers in the thousands, while others report just a handful.
The CDC also examined the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, which saw a dramatic spike in cases at the beginning of the semester. Communal housing and student gatherings both on and off campus probably contributed to the clusters of cases, the agency concluded in a separate report released Tuesday.
The swift spread of the disease at the school “underscores the urgent need to implement comprehensive mitigation strategies,” according to the report.
The CDC did not name the university, but school officials confirmed Wednesday that it was UNC-Chapel Hill.
Universities should take enhanced precautions to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, the agency recommended, including reducing the number of people living in dorms, ensuring people are complying with public health guidelines, increasing testing for the virus and discouraging students from gathering in groups.
Preventing spread of the coronavirus at universities “presents a unique set of challenges because of the presence of congregate living settings and difficulty limiting socialization and group gatherings,” the report noted.
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