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Positive COVID-19 cases nearly doubled at Oklahoma State University over the Second week

OSU COVID cases nearly double in a week of classes

STILLWATER — Positive COVID-19 cases nearly doubled at Oklahoma State University over the past week.

OSU’s Stillwater campus recorded 279 active cases from the second week of classes, Aug. 24-30, according to updated testing data released Tuesday. OSU reported 157 cases on campus the first week of the semester, a 44% increase.

The University of Oklahoma, which started classes a week later than OSU, reported 105 people from its Norman campus are in quarantine after a positive test, and 128 others are isolated because of exposure, according to OU’s COVID-19 dashboard, last updated Monday. Of 303 people in isolation, 279 are OU students and 24 are employees.

The vast majority of positive tests at OSU have come from students. From the second week of classes alone, 117 OSU students and four university employees tested positive. Additionally, 93 students and one employee self-reported a positive case from off-campus testing.

Thirteen students are in quarantine housing in OSU residence halls. Others are isolated off campus.

Cases have been on the rise in Payne County, which has 346 active cases of COVID-19.

Over the past two weeks, about 75% of cases came from patients ages 18-35, said Kelli Rader, regional director of the Payne County Health Department.

Multiple videos surfaced showing young adults packing local bars, concerts and parties in Stillwater the weekend before OSU classes began Aug. 17. Local officials and university administrators urged students to avoid large gatherings.

Oklahoma State University is disappointed in the behaviors exhibited by some of our students off campus over the weekend,” OSU President Burns Hargis wrote in a message Aug. 17. “Attending large dance parties where neither mask wearing nor social distancing occurred showed a clear disregard for the protocols set forth by both the university and the city of Stillwater.”

Stillwater Mayor Will Joyce issued a proclamation Aug. 19 to cut bar occupancy to 50%, close dance floors and require socially distanced seating.

Rader recommended all residents, no matter their age group, wear face coverings, maintain personal hygiene and socially distance by at least 6 feet.

“We are all part of a single community,” Rader said. “These are the things that we can do to really impact disease transmission in our community.”

Gov. Kevin Stitt encouraged Oklahomans to wear masks and practice COVID-19 precautions while speaking at a news conference Tuesday in OSU's McKnight Center for the Performing Arts. The governor, though, continued to resist the idea of a statewide mask mandate.

Starting Tuesday, OSU will randomly select 500 students each week to take a COVID-19 test on campus. Administrators cleared the practice with local health officials after other colleges, such as Texas A&M University, adopted randomized testing programs, an OSU spokeswoman said.

Despite the global pandemic, enrollment at OSU increased slightly by 1.5%. The university retained 84.9% of its first-time, full-time undergraduates who attended in fall 2019, an improved retention rate than the previous year.

OU welcomed the third-largest freshman class in its history this year with 4,448 freshmen.

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