Shortly after opening its doors to students, the University of South Carolina has recorded 1,026 positive coronavirus tests and in the past week saw a test positivity rate among students and faculty of 26.3 percent, according to its COVID information dashboard.
Bob Caslen, president of the university, addressed the rising caseload in a Sept. 1 letter to the campus community.
“Our total number of active cases is larger than we expected at this point, and some student behavior off campus is both disappointing and unacceptable,” Caslen wrote. “We are confronting these realities and taking action.”
Caslen said the school quarantined several Greek houses and suspended several students and student organizations over their role in organizing parties.
For the sake of comparison, New York City’s test positivity rate peaked at roughly 70 percent in late March, according to city data. More recently, the city's test positivity rate has hovered around 1%.
Less than a week ago police broke up a pool party at a private residence near campus, which was described as having a “Mardi Gras” like atmosphere, NBC News reported.
The university’s COVID alert level is currently “low,” and administrators say the campus community is “strongly encouraged to increase behaviors related to physical distancing, face coverings, hand washing and reducing unnecessary social interaction,” according to the school's website.
They also said they would scale up testing and sterilization efforts, encouraging students to come in for routine COVID screening.
According to its website, the University of South Carolina is using saliva tests for students and faculty with results expected within 24 hours.
The university's COVID dashboard noted that a significant portion of its undergraduate population is doing online learning.
The College of Pharmacy is conducting open testing on campus locations for four hours daily, and even those who are not displaying COVID-19 symptoms are encouraged to come in for routine testing. Those who feel sick are encouraged to schedule a telemedicine visit.
USC did not immediately respond to request for comment.