Days after students return, two Mississippi universities have coronavirus outbreaks

Published 4:41 pm Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Days after students returned to Mississippi college campuses, two separate outbreaks of the COVID-19 coronavirus are under investigation at two universities, the state reported Wednesday.

“We are investigating two outbreaks, one at Ole Miss and one at the Mississippi University for Women,” Mississippi State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs said. “The one at the W has some traceback to the Cotton District in Starkville.”

Dobbs said the outbreaks appear to have not come from the transmission of the virus on the campus.

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“They appear to be from external sources, and then they got into different parts of the university,” he said. “It’s quite a few students it will be a considerable number of students when all is said and done.”

The Mississippi University for Women reported it had four students in its nursing program that have tested positive for the virus and that it would shift the juniors in the program to online classes for the next two weeks.

The university said in a statement that the students were asymptomatic, but that 71 other students in the class were notified to quarantine for 14 days.

“We’re extremely concerned about colleges,” Dobbs said. “If you have a kid in college, be careful, be careful being around them, honestly.

“Because that’s going to be a real risk situation,” he said. “If you’re going to visit your kids, even if they don’t feel bad, they’re going to give it to aunts, uncles, grandma, etc.”

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves said communicating to college students the need follow the guidelines is going to be difficult.

“It’s a pretty monumental task whether kids are on their college campuses or if they’re at home to keep 21, 23 or 24 or 25-year-old kids from being 21, 22, 23, 24 or 25-year-old kids,” Reeves said.

The governor said all Mississippians should consider that everyone in the public has coronavirus, so they need to take precautions around others.