“We are disappointed that many of our students chose to ignore Covid-19 public health guidance by congregating in a large group without social distancing or face coverings,” Sylvia Carson, UNG’s executive director of communications, told CNN in an email.
Taken together, the clusters and the party neatly illustrate the difficulties of bringing young people into proximity during the pandemic and comes as students are starting to return to campuses for in-person classes, remote learning, or both.
“It is just not paying attention to human psychology if you think you’re going to be able to put those kids back together and not have them go and party,” said Dr. Megan Ranney, an emergency physician and associate professor of Emergency Medicine at Brown University.
“Any of us who were young adults know what it’s like to be in your late teens and early 20s. It’s up to those colleges to make it easy for those kids to do the right thing, to do regular testing, have mask mandates, have masks easily available, and if needed, to shut down those campuses,” she told CNN.
Young people generally have less severe outcomes from Covid-19 infection. But they are not immune to the virus and can still spread it to others who are more vulnerable.
Dr. Tom Frieden, the former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, noted that the virus spreading anywhere is a threat to people everywhere.
“What we have to do is recognize that we’re all in it together,” he told CNN. “And any one group or any one part of the country that gets infected or has a high rate of disease is a risk potentially to every other age group and every other part of the country.”
Clusters at UNC and Oklahoma State
Less than a week into the start of classes, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill announced a fourth cluster of Covid-19 cases on campus.
Two universities in Oklahoma have also seen a significant number of cases.
An Oklahoma State University sorority house is under quarantine after 23 members tested positive for Covid-19, according to the university.
“Last night OSU officials learned of 23 positive COVID cases in an off-campus sorority house. The rapid antigen testing was performed at an off-campus health care facility,” a statement from the university read.
The entire sorority house is in isolation or quarantine after the confirmed cases, and residents “will be prohibited from leaving the facility,” the university said.
At the University of Oklahoma, nine football players tested positive for the coronavirus as the Big 12, its conference, continues to gear up for fall football, head coach Lincoln Riley said Saturday.
The test results came back after the team had returned from a one-week break from pre-season practice.
“We’ve done such a tremendous job this entire time. You know when (you) give players time, there is risk in that. This isn’t the NBA, we don’t have a bubble. We all have to continue to work to do a better job by all accounts. We’re still confident in the plan that we have,” Riley said.
CNN’s Hollie Silverman, Chandler Thornton, Leah Asmelash and Cesar Marin contributed to this report.