College campuses face challenges stopping COVID-19 outbreaks

Hundreds of young people were seen partying inside Washington Square Park on Saturday night not far from NYU where the fall semester began last week. You'd typically see this kind of dancing and drinking on a normal college weekend pre-COVID-19 pandemic. Health officials are reminding people that failing to keep their distance from each other could impact how coronavirus spreads in the coming months. 

NYU already suspended more than 20 students for not following social distancing rules and officials there are investigating this past weekend's event.

Dr. Len Horovitz of Lenox Hill Hospital said that continuing to follow COVID protocols will help decrease the spread. 

"The problem isn't really the classroom or the campus when people are walking outside. The problem is probably dormitory-related — the parties that may take place on weekends or nights," Dr. Horowitz said. "I don't dictate policy but certainly the safest is remote learning and virtual classrooms. We have to rely more on personal responsibility and that's difficult when you're young and reckless."

It's far from the only incident. More than 1,000 cases of COVID-19 have been reported at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, more than 1,400 at the University of South Carolina, and more than 950 at Texas A&M.

In New York, SUNY Oneonta is switching to online classes for the rest of the semester after nearly 600 people tested positive for coronavirus. More than 70 students have tested positive at Fredonia. Sixty-four SUNY campuses had been individually tracking COVID cases. To make it easier to see what is happening, Gov. Andrew Cuomo unveiled a new dashboard to keep track of all schools on one platform.

According to Davidson College's College Crisis Initiative tracker, 20% of about 3,000 colleges in the country are either primarily or fully in-person this semester.

Get breaking news alerts in the FOX5NY News app. It is FREE! Download for iOS or Android