Just two weeks after students started returning to Ball State University last month, the surrounding county had become Indiana’s coronavirus epicenter.
Out of nearly 600 students tested for the virus, more than half have been positive. Dozens of infections have been blamed on off-campus parties, prompting university officials to admonish students.
University President Geoffrey Mearns wrote that the cases apparently were tied not to classrooms or dormitories but to “poor personal choices some students are making, primarily off campus.”
“The actions of these students are putting our planned on-campus instruction and activities at risk,” he said.
Similar examples abound in other college towns across the nation. Among the 50 U.S. counties with the highest concentrations of students and overall populations of at least 50,000, 20 have consistently reported higher rates of new virus cases than their states have since Sept. 1, according to an Associated Press analysis.
On average, infection rates in those 20 counties have been more than three times higher than their states’ overall rates.
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