Coronavirus Spike Tied to Ole Miss Fraternity Parties

In just two weeks, the total number of University of Mississippi students who tested positive since March 19 nearly doubled.

Coronavirus Spike Tied to Ole Miss Fraternity Parties

OXFORD, Miss. — A statewide uptick in coronavirus cases in Mississippi has been largely linked to fraternity parties, a health officer announced during a press conference Thursday.

Mississippi State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs said officials linked a cluster of new cases to University of Mississippi fraternity parties that have continued although social distancing restrictions are still in place, reports Newsweek. The school, commonly referred to as Ole Miss, is the state’s largest university.

“We do think they’re at the front end or a mid sort of section of a significant outbreak,” he said. “What we’ve identified so far is that it seems to be related to community transmission and social gatherings, and we have linked quite a few patients back to fraternity rush parties that are happening in the summer.”

Since June 1, residents have been allowed to gather in groups of no more than 20 people inside and no more than 50 outside.

“It’s clearly not happening,” Dobbs said, adding that 381 new cases and five additional deaths had been reported statewide as of June 17. More recent numbers are not available because the state’s health department is experiencing technical issues with its data reporting system.

Dobbs said hospitals are currently under strain from the rise in cases. There are currently 465 COVID-19 patients hospitalized with 159 in intensive care and 100 on ventilators. He also reiterated that many young people are getting the virus. Of the new cases in Oxford, 81% are between the ages of 18-24.

Dr. Arthur Doctor, director of the University of Mississippi Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life, said his office “has instructed all fraternity chapters to refrain from hosting recruitment or social events in Oxford or any other cities,” according to Oxford Eagle. Any chapter found out of compliance will be placed on social probation.

Additionally, on June 16, Oxford Mayor Robyn Tannehill said he was alerted to a rise in student cases by Laura Hill, president and family nurse practitioner at Ole Town Med. Since June 1, 162 Ole Miss students had tested positive.

“As of yesterday, we had 195 cases since March 19 and so it almost doubled our number in the past two weeks,” said Tannehill.

Overall, more than 21,000 people in the state have tested positive with 943 deaths.

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Amy is Campus Safety’s Executive Editor. Prior to joining the editorial team in 2017, she worked in both events and digital marketing.

Amy has many close relatives and friends who are teachers, motivating her to learn and share as much as she can about campus security. She has a minor in education and has worked with children in several capacities, further deepening her passion for keeping students safe.

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