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Notre Dame traces more than 50 coronavirus cases to off-campus party, official says

Students on campus at the University of Notre Dame

Alfredo Sosa | The Christian Science Monitor | Getty Images

An off-campus party has led to a spike in coronavirus cases at the University of Notre Dame, which is now reporting more than 50 total cases since classes resumed just two weeks ago, according to a university official. 

Notre Dame reported 58 Covid-19 cases as of Sunday, a sudden uptick in infections about a week since students returned to campus for the fall semester, according to its coronavirus dashboard last updated on Monday. Half of the 30 tests processed on Sunday alone were positive. 

Cases have ballooned since the university reported its first positive case on Aug. 6 with more than 11.5% of the roughly 500 tests conducted so far returning positive.

Nearly 12,000 students were tested before arriving on campus as part of the university’s pre-screening efforts, and only 33 tests, well below 1%, came back positive, according to the university

Paul Browne, a university spokesman, told the South Bend Tribune on Friday that many of the growing cases were traced to an off-campus party. He said party goers didn’t social distance or wear face coverings. A spokesperson for Notre Dame wasn’t immediately made available to CNBC for comment. 

“What it reinforces is our concern that it only takes a weak link,” Browne told the Tribune. “You can have a very strong chain, but if you have only one weak link, it can cause numbers to spike.”

Browne added that university officials believe they can continue in-person classes. 

The outbreak comes as Notre Dame tries to reopen its campus while controlling the coronavirus’ spread. The university said it’s conducting surveillance testing, which can help determine how widespread the virus is transmitting, and will conduct daily health checks. 

Notre Dame isn’t the only university trying to contain outbreaks since reopening its campus. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill announced on Monday that it’s canceling in-person undergraduate classes after an outbreak spread across its campus within a couple of weeks. 

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