Ohio ranks fourth nationally in coronavirus cases at colleges: What to know

Ohio has the country’s fourth-highest number of coronavirus cases in colleges as campuses are continuing to be on the front lines of the pandemic, according to newly released data.

A New York Times survey of U.S. colleges and universities showed 181,686 cases on 1,712 campuses, as of last Thursday. The Times reported at least 70 deaths on college campuses were linked to COVID-19.

Texas led all states with 14,626 cases. The top five includes Georgia ranking second with 9,823 cases, followed by Florida with 9,161, Ohio at 9,040, and South Carolina with 8,151.

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The top five campuses are the University of Georgia with 3,888 cases, Clemson University with 3,770 cases, Ohio State University with 3,051 cases, University of Wisconsin-Madison with 3,041 cases and Indiana University-Bloomington with 2,917 cases.

Ohio State and Miami University are ranked the top two in Ohio and third and 17th in the nation.

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There were 19 college campuses that did not participate in the survey, which includes many university branch campuses.

Officials have warned about the potential for outbreaks on campuses since students began returning across the country in August. Last month, Butler County Health Commissioner Jennifer Bailer said, “There is a substantial risk of COVID-19 outbreaks at college and universities, which is now being seen in numerous places across the country.”

“Even the best plans don’t always prevent the virus from spreading on a campus because of the traditional nature of college - social events, house parties, dorms, dining halls, and large classrooms," she said. "The traditional college experience has generally been about socializing. Unfortunately, the spread of this disease is driven by behaviors like socializing in close quarters.”

If Miami and other colleges infectious rates are going to decline, then individuals are going to have to change their activities, officials said.

Last week, more than one-third of Miami’s 35 main campus student residence buildings reported floors where enough students had tested positive to earn the school’s highest alert level of purple, officials said.

On Tuesday, the Ohio Department of Health released a new video to encourage people to wear a mask and to social distance that features former Ohio State football coaches Urban Meyer and Jim Tressel.

Colleges and universities have been trying to get back into full operation after closing down last spring. Since the start of the fall semester, many campuses have tried to return to in-person learning or a hybrid of online and in-person classes.

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Cases include those of students, faculty, staff members and other college workers, according to the Times. The newspaper said the statistics were as of Oct. 8, 2020 and that the list would be updated every two weeks.

Since late July, The New York Times has conducted a rolling survey of American colleges and universities — including every four-year public institution and every private college that competes in NCAA sports — to track the number of coronavirus cases reported among students and employees. The survey now includes more than 1,700 colleges.

The Times also noted with no national tracking system, colleges are making their own rules for how to tally infections. As colleges report data differently, have multiple campuses, and because cases continued to emerge even in the months when most campuses were closed, all reported cases have been counted since the start of the pandemic.

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