A cluster of coronavirus cases in Mississippi has been linked to fraternity parties at the University of Mississippi in Oxford.
The state’s health officer, Dr. Thomas Dobbs, announced that there were 381 new cases of coronavirus and five deaths during a Thursday press conference. Many of those are linked to the university in Oxford, where Dobbs is also an associate professor.
"We recently have identified a cluster of cases and outbreaks in Oxford, Mississippi," he said, according to CNN.
Dobbs reiterated the state’s policy of having no more than 20 people in an enclosed area and no more than 50 total people at any gatherings, which he said “is clearly not happening.”
The Oxford Eagle reported that the University of Mississippi Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life has issued a statement to the fraternities caught hosting parties, stating that the chapters that are not complying with the state’s coronavirus rules will be placed on probation.
The statement comes after Oxford Mayor Robyn Tannehill announced that an estimated 162 students at the University of Mississippi tested positive during a meeting last week. Many of the cases were traced back to fraternity “rush parties,” according to The Oxford Eagle.
The director of the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life, Dr. Arthur Doctor, told the outlet that his office has “instructed all fraternity chapters to refrain from hosting recruitment or social events in Oxford or any other cities.”
During the Thursday press conference, Dobbs said the lack of social distancing over the summer break has been "overwhelmingly disappointing," as the state tries to prepare for a potential second wave of coronavirus in the fall.
That day, he said there were 465 hospitalized patients, 159 people in the intensive care unit and 100 people on ventilators in the state.
However, Mississippi’s coronavirus case numbers have continued to rise since Thursday. Following two days of no new cases or deaths, the state reported its highest ever number of new daily cases on Monday — 1,265 — according to data from The New York Times.
The state also had 35 new coronavirus-related deaths Monday, its highest daily count since the Times began collecting data.
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