After US universities closed to prevent the coronavirus from spreading, many students held “celebrations” parties, increasing the risk of spreading the disease.
According to the South China Morning Post, like many other US universities, Vanderbilt University in Nashville (Tennessee) also announced the closure of its dormitories and online classes last month.
The school emphasized “extreme caution” after a local health worker tested positive for the new strain of coronavirus. However, before leaving the school to return home, more than 100 Vanderbilt students still attended parties and ignored all the school’s instructions.
They huddled together in apartment buildings, selfie and posted on Instagram. Many groups organized early St. Peter’s Day while New York City announced the cancellation of the annual traditional parade.
In a photo posted to Instagram on March 11, a student dressed in a fake protective suit, wearing a black mask, stood in the middle of a student party. On the caption, he wrote, “Challenge me to corona (virus) to me” and then put the location of Wuhan (Hubei Province), where the first case of the virus was reported.
Despite the disease
Some Vanderbilt students later learned that they were infected with the new strain of coronavirus. An online group of students infected with viruses at Vanderbilt has about 107 members, most of whom have mild or moderate symptoms. Vanderbilt University Medical Center also recorded 86 employees positive for the virus.
Vanderbilt University is a prestigious private university in the southern United States. The school example shows the dangerous habits of young people far beyond the spring break scene on Florida beach last month.
According to the South China Morning Post, university students – who travel across the United States and abroad – have largely contributed to the spread of the disease. Other universities have also reported an outbreak of coronavirus.
About 40 students at the University of Texas (Austin, Texas) are positive for Covid-19 after returning from spring break in Mexico. Last month, five students at Tampa University were also infected with the coronavirus after traveling together.
Vanderbilt University begins its spring break from February 29 to March 8, when a pandemic spreads in Europe. Vanderbilt is an expensive private school with a large number of well-off students. Students often travel abroad – especially Europe – during the spring break.
Max Schulman – a student of Vanderbilt said that he had just traveled to Barcelona with more than 10 classmates. According to Max, about 50 Vanderbilt students went there during the spring break.
On the flight back, he felt restless and not alert. Instead of going to school, Max went home to Long Island and was tested positive for the coronavirus. Unlike him, many other students have returned to school.
On March 8, Li Yihan – a Chinese student petitioned Vanderbilt to suspend classes to protect student health as the number of coronavirus infections in Nashville increased.
There have been 2 cases of infection in Nashville, while students from all over the world started coming back after spring break. The risk is very high if the school organizes the classrooms as usual, ”the petition wrote.
On the same day, the university confirmed that no student was infected with the coronavirus on campus. Classes will reopen on March 9. However, by the end of the day, the school said some students had been in contact with patients infected with the coronavirus and announced a suspension of teaching.
That very night, some students began organizing a party to celebrate, according to Reuters . On Instagram, a student took a picture of the school notice and wrote, “Let’s start the 2nd spring break.”
On March 10, Vanderbilt continued to issue a warning: “Do not organize parties, gatherings; students are encouraged to socialize and avoid interaction with others.”
On March 11, the school reported a health-care worker at Vanderbilt University Medical Center positive for the virus and turning the classes online. In addition, students living in dormitories will have to move within 4 days.
Prior to that announcement, students hurriedly celebrated St. Patrician Day soon. “We’re all here and ready to ‘burn’ the last time our college careers are over,” a student posted on Facebook about a party taking place off campus.
According to some students, some who attended the party later tested positive for the coronavirus. However, Reuters could not confirm the information.
Another party took place on the roof of the Wesley Place apartment complex, where the third and fourth-year Vanderbilt students lived. On Instagram, students post photos to gather, chat and drink beer together.
“The Covid family”
In one photo, a group of seven young girls in blue hugging and holding hands intimately. In another video, several dozen students hugged, danced, and drank together.
On the same day, US President Donald Trump banned a 30-day entry ban for foreigners from Europe, the National Basketball Association postponed the season, actor Tom Hanks and his wife tested positive with virus.
Currently, a separate online group called the Covid Family – including Vanderbilt students says they are infected with the virus – has reached 107 members.
According to Reuters , a student infected with Covid-19 attended school parties and did not show symptoms until March 15, when he returned home. The student’s mother also had mild symptoms.
Sophia Yan, a Chinese student of Vanderbilt, said she discovered she had coronavirus infection when she returned to Shenzhen on March 17. According to Yan, she didn’t attend any parties and suspected the virus had spread wide within the Vanderbilt campus.
According to Ms. Yan, American universities should ask students to report the entire schedule during the spring vacation and publicize the accommodation and classrooms of patients infected with coronavirus.
However, Vanderbilt’s governing board stated that the school “cannot disclose the personal information of any student who is positive for Covid-19 due to federal student privacy laws”.
“I think the Vanderbilt leadership does not realize that many of its students do not take it seriously,” commented Netra Rastogi, a sophomore.