MU sophomore Elise Diesfeld has visited downtown Columbia frequently since returning to campus in August. She heard the music blaring and saw the party clothes. It was easy, Diesfeld said, to tell the people walking around did not have social distancing on their minds.
Cases of COVID-19 in Boone County spiked, reaching a record daily high of 221 on Sept. 5, since college students came back to town en masse for the fall semester.
The city and MU have toughened up rules about public conduct, but students and city officials worry there’s not much more they can do to slow the increase without wider testing and people altering their behavior.
As of Friday, Boone County has reported 3,730 positive cases. Of that, almost half — 1,806, or 48% — have been among people ages 18-22. MU has reported 1,194 positive cases since Aug. 19, about the time students began returning to Columbia. However, the number of active cases has declined 14% — down 96 cases to 562 — since Wednesday, MU spokesperson Christian Basi said in an email.
As the number of student cases swelled, MU began issuing citations to students violating city and campus orders, such as gathering in groups greater than 20 people or not wearing masks. As of Friday, 394 citations had been referred to the MU Office of Student Accountability and Support, Basi said. This could include multiple reports of the same incident.
The increase in student cases was a big reason the city continued and toughened its public health order Aug. 28. People must wear masks in public places, and bars and restaurants must stop serving alcohol by 9 p.m. and close by 10.
To read more on this story, visit our partners at the Columbia Missourian