- Dr. Anthony Fauci says that ‘the worst thing you can do’ is send students who test positive for COVID-19 home where they can infect their friends and family.
- Some schools have dorms set up to quarantine sick students, but others are sending students home, and this could cause outbreaks in their hometowns.
- Labor Day weekend could be especially dangerous as students take trips and visit friends and family.
The number of new reported COVID-19 cases in the US was decreasing at an encouraging rate throughout much of August, but began to stall out at the end of the month. There are undoubtedly plenty of factors that contributed to the sudden plateau, but it seems relevant that schools around the country began to open in August. In fact, as we noted earlier this week, 9 of the 10 worst outbreaks in America were taking place in college towns.
To that point, Dr. Anthony Fauci, one of the nation’s top infectious disease experts and a member of the coronavirus task force, appeared on NBC’s The Today Show this week and warned that sending students home from universities or colleges when they test positive for COVID-19 is “the worst thing you can do.”
“Keep them at the university in a place that’s sequestered enough from the other students, but don’t have them go home because they could be spreading it in their home state,” Fauci added. Many schools have set up dorms for the express purpose of quarantining students that test positive so they can stay on campus and recover, but others have elected to send students back home, where they can spread the virus to their family and beyond.
This mirrors the advice of Dr. Fauci’s fellow task force member, Dr. Deborah Birx, who said in a news conference last weekend that students should isolate at school and urged them to not “return home if you’re positive and spread the virus to your family, your aunts, your uncles, your grandparents.”
Dr. Birx expounded upon that point in a call with US governors, the audio of which ABC News obtained:
It’s really important that you check in with your university presidents to make sure they also have an isolation and care plan for students who become positive, even if they have moved to online. It’s really important that these students are continuously tested, isolated and cared for and don’t return to their multi-generational households where they could dramatically increase spread, particularly over the Labor Day weekend.
College and university outbreaks have been making headlines every day since students began returning to campus, and the last thing that we need to do is send all of those infected and contagious young adults back home where they can infect more vulnerable individuals. This is an especially vital warning ahead of Labor Day weekend, as students across the country make plans to take vacations or return home to see their families.