CDC: Greek life rush week links to spike in COVID-19 cases at beginning of semester at an Arkansas university

Around Arkansas

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) published a report linking a spike in COVID-19 cases at an Arkansas University (university A) in August to fraternity and sorority events.

A total of 965 confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases associated with university A were identified, with symptom onset occurring during August 20–September 5, 2020.

At the start of the academic year, sorority and fraternity organizations host a series of recruitment activities known as rush week; rush week culminates with bid day, when selections are announced. At university A in Arkansas, sorority rush week (for women) was held during August 17–22, 2020, and consisted of on- and off-campus social gatherings, including an outdoor bid day event on August 22.

31% of the patients with these cases reported involvement in fraternity or sorority activity.

During August 22–September 5, of the 965 cases, 699 (72%) were confirmed cases and 266 (28%) probable cases.

Of the 965 cases, the CDC found 565 (59%) cases to 56 residences (16 dormitories, 20 apartments and houses, and 20 fraternity or sorority houses) and to their case-to-event associations.

The full network consisted of one large, linked cluster of 471 (83%) cases (86% in women and 14% in men) and eight smaller, unlinked gatherings of 94 total cases (49% in women and 51% in men; cluster size range = 4–12 cases).

54 gatherings were detected, including 27 (50%) with at least five cases.

A three-day, ADH-sponsored testing event, held during September 1–3 in response to an increase in university associated cases detected by ADH, resulted in a 22% test positivity rate and identified 324 cases.

Overall, 34% of cases were identified through this testing event.

Among the 965 confirmed and probable cases with illness onset dates during August 20–September 5, 673 (70%) occurred in women and 936 (97%) were in persons aged 18–24 years.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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