As the first week of fall classes at the University of Mississippi comes to a close, the university reports a 91% increase in COVID-19 cases in the past seven days.
On the first day of classes alone, the university reported a 56-case increase among students and that trend continued throughout the week. The current total of active confirmed cases is 168, according to the UM COVID-19 Dashboard. Of these, 159 cases are students, seven are staff and one is a faculty member.
While the university offers testing to any student, faculty or staff member who develops symptoms of COVID-19 or suspects that he or she has been exposed to the virus, UM is relying heavily on students self-reporting their cases. Over 62% of the cases that the university confirmed this week came from students who received their COVID-19 test from a healthcare provider other than University Health Services (UHS) and then reported their positive test to UHS.
At present, there are nine active campus outbreaks, meaning three or more people in one university group or on one floor of student housing tested positive. The university dashboard indicates that six of the outbreaks are in on-campus housing and three are among campus programs.
At least two sorority houses on campus, including Delta Delta Delta and Alpha Phi, are in quarantine, and some student-athletes who were a part of the first university outbreak this fall are still in quarantine or isolation.
With the university directing whole floors of student dorms to quarantine — but still allowing these students the option of not utilizing university-provided isolation and quarantine housing — bed availability is at 87.7% for isolation and 71.1% for quarantine. However, the university’s COVID-19 dashboard does not appear to show the total number of students in quarantine.
When the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill shut down its in-person classes earlier this month, the university only had four empty quarantine rooms left on campus. Around 177 students were in isolation and 349 were quarantined, according to Inside Higher Ed.
While the University of Mississippi continues to send students “COVID update” emails almost daily, administrators have not made any public statements regarding the possibility of halting in-person classes as the first week of the fall semester comes to its end.