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Dorms are like cruise ships on land or prisons without bars: people living in proximity, in frequent contact, over extended periods of time. For many infectious pathogens, such settings are a boon for disease transmission. 1/
As leaders in higher education start to make decisions about reopening their campuses this fall, they start with this working against them. 2/
In reopening campuses to residential life, we may very well be seeding new outbreaks across the nation. Colleges are perfect incubators for viral spread and propagation. 3/
And while the prospect of a CNN chyron proclaiming an outbreak of SARS-CoV2 on their campus, and the reaction of parents and donors, may make university administrators break out in a cold sweat, the potential for spread to the surrounding community is far more worrisome. 4/
This is because unlike ships out at sea, college campuses are not isolated. They will very likely become institutional amplifiers of local epidemics. 5/
Presidents and trustees are making epidemiological decisions not just for their students and staff but for the cities and towns they call home. 6/
I’ve been spending a lot of my time during this pandemic writing affidavits arguing for the release of those incarcerated in jails, prisons, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention facilities. Why? 7/
Because it’s very difficult to do infection control and social-distancing in congregate facilities, and once a virus takes hold, the potential for rapid spread is high. This is why prisons, meat-packing plants, and nursing homes have become sites of superspreading events. 8/
Perhaps institutions with deep pockets like Yale, where I work, can test all students, faculty, and staff week after week to detect outbreaks early on, and contain them by isolating all affected individuals. 9/
But Yale has over 13,000 students, over 4,800 faculty, and over 10,000 staff. The logistical challenge is acute even for a place with a $30-billion endowment. Now imagine colleges and universities struggling to do this on a more meager budget. 10/
Universities are dangerous places to be during a pandemic. The illness will spread from gown to town. chronicle.com/article/The-Gr…
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