COVID-19 cases at Texas’ public universities are spiking. University and local health officials anticipated that might happen, as colleges and universities try to return to some semblance of a normal fall semester.
Brittany Britto is a higher-education reporter for the Houston Chronicle who’s is tracking the uptick in cases. She told Texas Standard that Texas A&M and Baylor have some of the highest positive rates among Texas colleges and universities. Both schools have more than 700 COVID-19 cases each. At A&M, that translates to an 11% positivity rate. Other schools with significant numbers of cases include Prairie View A&M and Sam Houston State. The case counts aren’t all created equal, though, Britto said, because of the different ways and time frames during which schools report their cases. Britto said the schools she’s tracking have COVID-19 dashboards on their websites that display case counts.
As a consequence of the spike, colleges are working to change student behavior. That includes finding ways to encourage more social distancing and discourage students who may run afoul of other guidelines meant to stem the spread of COVID-19. Baylor, for example, had a surge of COVID-19 cases in one of its residence halls.
“There’s discipline and suspension and making sure students are socially distancing,” Britto said.
The Baylor students were forced to shelter in place while health officials tested them and conducted contract tracing.
“Most of the students that I’ve spoken to are taking it seriously,” Britto said. “I have spoken to a couple of students who say they’re really bored, and at least one student that says his immune system is built like a tank, so he’s been hanging out with his friends.”