Colleges across the US are seeing thousands of new coronavirus cases as students and faculty return to campus for the fall semester.
The University of Georgia, University of Alabama, and Ohio State University have some of the largest campus outbreaks to date.
Business Insider took a closer look at 10 colleges with significant coronavirus outbreaks.
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Coronavirus outbreaks are cropping up on college campuses across the US as students arrive for the fall semester.
Many schools have switched to virtual learning plans, with some requesting that students don’t come to campus at all. But for other college communities, it’s too late.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has warned colleges not to send students home if they’re already experiencing a campus outbreak. Most of the schools on this list remain open with some in-person classes.
Business Insider took a closer look at the timelines of 10 of the largest campus coronavirus outbreaks since the fall semester began.
1. University of Georgia
The University of Georgia has tallied 2,588 positive COVID-19 test results since reopening August 10, according to data from the school’s self-reporting tool, DawgCheck. More than half of those results — 1,417 new positives — were reported during the first week of September.
Of that week’s test results, only 15 came from university employees and the rest came from UGA students. Members of sororities and fraternities have come under fire for posting maskless photos and hosting events despite the rapid spread of the coronavirus on campus, according to student newspaper The Red & Black.
Despite the rising case counts and pushback from faculty, the university continues to hold mostly in-person classes, which began August 20.
Including cases counted between March and August, UGA has seen 3,045 total positive test results throughout the coronavirus pandemic. The university’s testing data for the week of September 7 was still pending at the time of publication, so the total case count to date is likely higher.
2. University of Alabama
Many of the campus outbreaks so far have taken place in the South, with another large one occurring at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. The school has reported 2,378 positive COVID-19 tests among students, faculty, and staff since hybrid classes started on August 19.
After the case count increased by more than 500 during the first week of class and students were caught bar-hopping on social media, the university coordinated with the city of Tuscaloosa to close local bars for two weeks. The bars reopened at half capacity on Tuesday.
The week of August 28 saw an even greater spike, with 846 new student positives, but university officials have boasted a decline in positive test results since then. The most recent week of data available, September 4-10, included 294 student positives.
3. Ohio State University
Ohio State University has reported 2,286 positive COVID-19 tests on campus, including 2,253 student positives since August 14 and 33 employee positives since August 1.
The university has taken a firm stance on student partying, temporarily suspending 228 students who broke social gathering guidelines before classes even started. Fall semester classes began August 25, with some classes of less than 50 students taking place in person and others meeting online.
Like many other colleges, OSU had their highest weekly positive total to date during the first week of September — just after their classes kicked off — with more than 1,000 student positive tests reported in one week.
4. University of South Carolina
The University of South Carolina has seen at least 2,108 unique cases of COVID-19 since August 1, including 2,074 students and 34 university employees.
Despite nearly 8% of the student body testing positive in the past month and a half, the campus remains on “low alert” according to its data dashboard. The campus alert level is determined by factors such as testing, active cases on campus, and quarantine preparedness.
The university’s president attributed the spike in cases to a combination of extensive testing and off-campus social activities.
“There’s a lot of schools out there that have the same sort of student behavior ours is but they’re just not testing,” University President Bob Caslen told WIS News in early September.
But the school’s testing has since been compromised, according to an email that went out to students and staff September 4 and was obtained by VICE. After a key staffer in the on-campus saliva testing lab became ill, the lab was temporarily suspended and permanently compromised. It went from testing and processing 1,200 students per day to 200 per day, likely affecting the case totals displayed on the school’s data dashboard.
5. University of Iowa
In an update posted September 14, the University of Iowa reported 1,831 cases of COVID-19 since August 18, according to student and employee self-reports.
Only 27 of those cases were university employees, with the other 1,804 cases coming from the student population. That means about one in 18 students have reported testing positive, according to a tweet by UIowa Sickout, a group of students and faculty calling in sick to demand 100% online instruction.
The group is hosting their second “sickout” protest this month, this time working in conjunction with Iowa State University and encouraging participants to contact administrators. The first “sickout” took place September 2 and involved over 900 UIowa students and faculty members calling in sick, according to a now-defunct Facebook page.
The university continues to offer a combination of in-person and online classes, which began August 24.
6. University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign has reported 1,760 cases of COVID-19, according to a New York Times initiative to track outbreaks on college campuses.
The school’s testing data dashboard does not include a total number of positive tests, instead noting daily new cases detected by an extensive saliva testing initiative. The university tests more than 10,000 students on an average day, accounting for at least 20% of testing in the state of Illinois.
Students on campus are required to get tested twice a week and produce negative test results to access university buildings. But even strict testing guidelines can’t keep students from partying.
The case count spiked around August 31, when there were 230 new cases detected in a single day, and the administration took note. Starting September 2, the school instituted a two-week lockdown during which students are prohibited from gathering in groups and leaving their residences for non-essential activities.
7. Illinois State University
Illinois State University, has reported 1,385 positive COVID-19 tests since classes began August 17, according to the school’s campus case tracker.
Cases were at a high the week of August 31, when the campus community turned up 770 positives in 7 days.
The majority of Illinois State students live off campus and are allowed to quarantine in their residences if they test positive, according the media relations director Eric Jome.
But the administration has asked students living in residence halls to return home to quarantine if they test positive for COVID-19, despite Fauci’s recent warning. The school is reserving some on-campus housing for students who need to isolate but cannot return home.
8. University of Kentucky
The University of Kentucky has reported 1,360 cases of COVID-19 among students since July 20.
All students coming to campus were required to get tested between August 3 and August 22. Based on those initial results, the university required certain groups — namely students in Greek life — to get retested due to higher positivity rates among those groups.
As of September 11, 424 cases were considered active, meaning the students are currently in isolation. Only 93 of those students are quarantining in campus facilities or Greek residences, with the rest isolating off campus.
9. James Madison University
James Madison University, located in Harrisonburg, Va., has reported 1,349 cases of COVID-19 among students and 9 additional self-reported staff cases since July 1. About 1,000 of those cases have since been reported as recovered.
Cases spiked during the first week of class, which began August 26. After more than 500 students tested positive and isolation beds quickly filled up, the university decided to switch from a hybrid learning model to entirely online classes by September 7.
In an announcement published September 1, the university president asked all students to return home by Labor Day. Some students with exemptions were permitted to remain on campus.
The university plans to revisit the possibility of reopening campus and returning to some in-person instruction at the end of the month.
10. University of Dayton
The University of Dayton, located in Dayton, Ohio, is home to one of the largest outbreaks in the Midwest despite having a relatively small student body.
The university has reported 1,211 cases of COVID-19 in students since case tracking was implemented August 10. With just over 8,600 undergraduates enrolled, that means about 14% of the student population has tested positive.
The campus alert level climbed from “yellow – caution” to “red – warning” in the first week of the fall semester, which began August 24. Consequently, the first few weeks of classes were conducted remotely, although campus remained open.
The alert level returned to yellow as of September 11, and some in-person instruction will resume September 16.
Read the original article on Business Insider
What it’s like to stay at a Hilton, Marriott and Hyatt hotel during the COVID-19 pandemic
WASHINGTON — Salivating at the buffet table, eagerly awaiting your sizzling omelette to be done. Cramming into a crowded elevator with a long weekend’s worth of luggage in tow. Debating if you should go for the Peanut M&M’s or Twix minibar purchase.
None of these quintessential hotel moments happened during my three nights staying at hotels in Washington, D.C., this month, and it doesn’t take a public health degree to know why: the coronavirus pandemic.
The pandemic has slaughtered the travel industry, as I’ve written for months now, leaving four out of 10 hotel workers unemployed, more than a thousand hotels still closed and occupancy rates decimated.
We’ll get to this: Is it safe to stay in a hotel amid the coronavirus pandemic?
I wasn’t comfortable staying in a hotel in mid-March, and felt the same through July, despite assurances from the hospitality industry about its cleanliness measures and guests. By August, Washington’s low positivity rate and my burgeoning curiosity inspired me to mask up and see for myself.
The city’s hotel occupancy rate has been below the national average and hasn’t gone past 40% the last four weeks according to STR data, suggesting social distancing wouldn’t be difficult.
Many hand sanitizing wipes, meals and mirror selfies later, I’m here to tell you that staying in a hotel during the coronavirus pandemic felt generally safe, with the caveat that these three hotels don’t wholly represent their respective brands nor the industry at large.
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Hilton ‘CleanStay’ labels in place, but so-so on masks
I called ahead to see if I could get an early check-in at the Hilton Garden Inn in downtown Washington, and arrived just after noon. What stuck out to me most during my stay was the lack of diligent mask wearing from both staff and guests.
Were people wearing masks? Yes and no. Not a great sign to walk in and have the front desk manager not wearing his mask, even behind the plexiglass barrier. I saw a mask on the desk once I approached the station. The screen seemed a safe enough risk mitigation effort for me, though it is Hilton’s policy that all guests and employees wear face coverings in indoor public areas of the hotel.
“We take the safety of everyone entering our hotel very seriously and, consistent with District of Columbia requirements, have signage throughout the property stating that employees and guests should wear masks in public areas,” Lee Seiler, the hotel’s general manager, told USA TODAY in a statement on behalf of the franchisee. “We will act on your feedback and ensure our employees understand the importance of this policy.” This Hilton Garden Inn is independently owned and managed.
“We expect this policy to be implemented, like all things we do, by leading with hospitality,” Hilton corporate spokesperson Nigel Glennie told USA TODAY. This includes telling guests about the face covering policy before they arrive; reminding guests and visitors of the policy if they don’t have face coverings; and offering them a face covering for free if they don’t have one.
“That said, we also understand how challenging enforcing these rules can be for our team members, so have provided de-escalation training to help them diffuse challenging interactions and reach a great outcome for our guests,” Glennie added.
Weaving through floors, I noticed a mix of personnel and guests with and without masks.
Tiara Poole, 23, of Severn, Maryland, and Sunny Gordass, 24, of Capitol Heights, Maryland, were some of the only people I saw in the restaurant and bar area that doubles as extended lobby seating. Neither was wearing a mask as they had removed them to take pictures but quickly put them on when I approached.
The couple took a local vacation in celebration of Poole’s birthday and ventured throughout town during their stay. “We walked around, went to (restaurant) Founding Farmers then we saw (the Black Lives Matter plaza),” Gordass said. “It’s pretty cool seeing that in person.”
Was there social distancing? I felt comfortable given how few people were around. Signs encouraged guests to social distance in the lobby and the (empty) gym; you could buy grab-and-go food options to the left of the main entrance. Some of these options included full-blown meals in the form of breakfast bags or frozen dinners, but you could also purchase beverages like wine and coffee. It beat the minibar in terms of offerings, but there’s something special about having a snack already in your room that I missed.
How clean was everything? The “CleanStay” label attached to the door inspired confidence. Guests know their room has been cleaned if this seal is not broken.
Hilton’s cleanliness measures include placing the sticker in between the door and wall of rooms. Its protocol also calls for disinfecting many surfaces in the room like light switches, handles and knobs, major bathroom surfaces and the remote control. The remote control in my room also included a “CleanStay” label.
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Marriott: Not ‘too many inconveniences because of COVID’
I immediately felt safer in this Courtyard by Marriott seeing the front desk person with a mask on. First impressions don’t necessarily hold that much weight all the time – but during a pandemic, I wanted to feel taken care of more than usual. I signed a form promising I wouldn’t host any parties and showed my ID through the plexiglass barrier instead of handing it to the staffer, reducing another potential point of contact.
Were people wearing masks? Hit or miss, again, for both guests and employees, despite its policy for guests and employees to wear them at all times. Those with masks lifted them up upon seeing another person. I spotted a pair of gentlemen with no masks in sight sitting in two lobby armchairs, and no one on staff seemed to notice or care. Was I glaring through my mask? Who can say.
“Our hotel requires everyone to wear masks in all indoor public areas and select outdoor spaces,” complex assistant general manager Togi Mahdere told USA TODAY. “We appreciate you alerting us to your concerns as feedback provides us with the opportunity to continue to enhance our services.”
Rasheem Rooke, 46, of Washington, D.C., also was taking a staycation to get away from “all the excitement and energy at home,” he told USA TODAY.
He said that people had been wearing masks. “There have not been any issues with that. Coming and going, even getting in and out of the elevator or walking down the hallway,” he said.
And overall, how has he liked his hotel stay? “There haven’t been too many inconveniences because of COVID,” he said.
Was there social distancing? Again, given low occupancy rates and a lack of business travel, it was fairly easy to maintain distance. I rarely had to worry about sharing an elevator with someone, and when I did, the person was masked.
How clean was everything? The remote control covered in plastic in my room was encouraging. Its policy said there would be disinfecting wipes in my room, and I found two small ones by my soap and shampoo. Hand sanitizing stations were available throughout the hotel as advertised, too, including in elevator banks on guest floors.
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Hyatt staff masked up and hand sanitizing stations throughout
The lobby of the Grand Hyatt in downtown Washington struck me as easily the most gorgeous hotel (inside, anyway) of the ones I stayed in. But it also felt empty and sad. The employee who handed me my dinner seemed genuinely thrilled to see me, perhaps evident of limited guest interaction.
Were people wearing masks? Hit or miss, though staff were masked up. Two women, who were not guests, sat in the lobby with bandannas or gaiters lowered. This is against Hyatt’s policy, which requires masks in hotel indoor public areas and outdoor areas. Masks are also required when you leave your home in Washington.
Despite Hyatt’s policy requiring all people wear masks, “some guests may be exempt from this mandate, including guests with medical conditions, guests consuming food or beverages in restaurants, and children under the age of 2,” Majed Dawood-Farah, general manager of the Grand Hyatt Washington, told USA TODAY.
“We encourage guests to approach the front desk when they have questions regarding our hotel policies or concerns about their safety and wellbeing, so we may address their concerns immediately,” Dawood-Farah added.
Was there social distancing? Yes, given that few people took up the cavernous lobby. I found myself picturing a bustling convention hall, with people plopped down on couches, carelessly gabbing away mask-free. Different times, indeed.
I ordered meals by calling the front desk after viewing a menu via a QR code in my room located on my nightstand.
Eduard Katehakis, 24, of College Park, Maryland, was working on his computer in the lobby. He’s often worked from the hotel the past two years, and decided to have a staycation there after being impressed by employees’ cleaning prowess.
“It’s the best place to work just because there’s so much space in this lobby,” he said. “I like staying away from people.” He said there’s always someone cleaning.
For the most part people have been masked and distanced, he added. “I get very upset when people don’t just because I know that I’m doing my part,” he said.
How clean was everything? In front of the elevators on about a dozen floors I saw hand sanitizing stations, which boosted my confidence that the hotel took the pandemic as seriously as possible. Hyatt’s policy said these would appear “prominently” throughout the hotel, which was true.
The fitness center had automatic lights, and the room illuminated brighter when I walked in, again, alone.
Once I checked out the food menu via the QR code, I could call down for breakfast or dinner (albeit during restricted hours). I placed my order with the front desk and picked up meals on a floor below the lobby from a masked employee.
Would I have preferred a make-your-own-waffle station? Yes, but in the COVID-19 era, I appreciated the commitment to safety.
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Hilton, Marriott, Hyatt hotel stays: How safe I felt amid COVID-19
Taseko Mines: Florence Copper Permitting Update
VANCOUVER, BC, Sept. 22, 2020 /CNW/ – Taseko Mines Limited (TSX: TKO) (NYSE American: TGB) (LSE: TKO) ("Taseko" or the "Company") is pleased to announce that its Florence Copper Project received overwhelming support at the public hearing held by the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality ("ADEQ").
Funding patch would avert shutdown through Dec. 11, fund Navy’s Columbia program
WASHINGTON ― House Democrats have filed a stopgap spending measure to avoid a government shutdown and keep the Department of Defense and other federal agencies operating through Dec. 11.
The continuing resolution would allow the Navy to begin detailed design and construction work on two Columbia-class ballistic missile submarines, but leaves out White House requests for Space Force and nuclear weapons programs.
The bill would also extend the window for reimbursing government contractors for costs related to COVID-19 through Dec. 11. Trade groups had urged lawmakers for an extension as the pandemic has, for defense firms, created weapons program slowdowns, temporary factory closures and cash flow problems, particularly for smaller companies.
The CR, expected to be taken up by the House this week, was released Monday by the House Appropriations Committee.
In addition to the $1.6 billion for the Columbia-class sub, the bill would bar the Pentagon from launching new start programs, and omits funding for several so-called anomalies the Trump administration requested.
Without congressional intervention, the Navy would not have the money or authorization to begin work on the boats the sea service announced in June as part of a planned $10.4 billion contract with General Dynamics Electric Boat.
The bill comes amid weeks of stalled negotiations on a new pandemic relief bill, but lead lawmakers have committed to reaching an agreement to avoid a government shutdown. While some Democrats sought a CR that would last into early 2021, party leaders offered a bill whose December deadline aligned with what Republicans wanted.
Defense officials and industry leaders had said they preferred a shorter continuing resolution, because they cannot start new programs or increase spending on existing priorities under the restrictions from previous fiscal year funding.
Still, Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., immediately rejected the House proposal in a tweet: “House Democrats’ rough draft of a government funding bill shamefully leaves out key relief and support that American farmers need. This is no time to add insult to injury and defund help for farmers and rural America.”
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Failing to pass a CR would mean a government shutdown ahead of the Nov. 3 elections. Funding expires for the federal government on Sept. 30, the end of fiscal 2020.
With there bill’s release, House Democrats blamed Republicans, who control the Senate, for not passing appropriations bills as the Democrat-led House did earlier in the year.
“While the House did its job and passed bills funding nearly every government agency, Senate Republicans did not even begin the appropriations process. Because of their irresponsibility, a continuing resolution is sadly necessary,” said House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey, D-N.Y.
“This clean continuing resolution keeps government open while giving Congress additional time to negotiate annual appropriations bills that will invest for the people.”
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