Unvaccinated students led Covid outbreak at University of Chicago – CDC

Unvaccinated students led Covid outbreak at University of Chicago - CDC

This year, at the University of Chicago, new Covid-19 cases increased rapidly after students, most of whom were not fully vaccinated, returned from spring break. A recent study published on Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, has shown.

Between March 15 and May 3, 158 Covid-19 cases were diagnosed among undergraduate students despite several prevention strategies at the university, such as weekly testing for students living on campus.

Among 140 infected students who were interviewed, 89 said they recently traveled outside of Chicago during spring break, and 57 attended an unmasked indoor social gathering, such as a dinner or party, the agency said.

Destinations included seven different countries and 23 U.S. states, most commonly California, Colorado, Florida and New York, the CDC said. The most common reason for travel was vacation, according to the agency.

According to the CDC, the university implemented a stay-at-home order for all students living on campus, prohibited gatherings and shifted to remote learning, in responding to the cluster of cases. The stay-at-home order was lifted two weeks later after additional testing found few new cases.

The CDC said, the outbreak occurred immediately before eligibility for vaccination expanded in Chicago. Undergraduate-aged people in the city were largely ineligible for the shots before April 19, when local health officials moved to “phase 2” of their vaccination program. Among the students who were infected, only three were fully vaccinated.

For those who are unvaccinated in particular, the campus outbreak shows the importance of masking indoors and avoiding travel, amid the spread of the fast-moving delta variant, the CDC said.

“These results demonstrate the potential for COVID-19 outbreaks on university campuses after widespread student travel during breaks, at the beginning of new school terms, and when students participate in indoor social gatherings,” the agency wrote in the study.

The new report comes a day before the start of Labor Day weekend, when many families across the U.S. travel and more schools prepare to begin their fall semester.

Unvaccinated people were this week advised by Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the CDC’s director, against traveling over the holiday as the nation continues to battle back a surge in Covid cases and hospitalizations driven by the highly contagious delta variant.

While the daily average of hospital admissions has fallen in recent days, U.S. officials and health experts say Labor Day could be a threat to the nation’s progress going forward.

On Labor Day weekend, Lawrence Gostin, Director of the World Health Organization’s Collaborating Center on National and Global Health Law, said, “Labor Day weekend does pose a major risk as people swarm back to work and to school”.

Among the students interviewed for the CDC study, 93 were unvaccinated and 43 were partially vaccinated, meaning they had only received one dose of either Pfizer’s or Moderna’s two-shot vaccine.

The limitations of the study according to the CDC, include some students who refused to be interviewed and others who provided potentially false information, such as denying travel when other students indicated that they had.

 

Source: CNBC

Author: Greg