The reckless behavior of a small portion of University of Tennessee students could lead to “drastic measures” as Covid-19 rises on the Knoxville campus.
The university had 600 active cases of Covid-19 as of Monday, Chancellor Donde Plowman said on a live broadcast Tuesday. Of these, 592 were students and eight were employees.
“We now have 2,112 people in quarantine or self-isolation. Of those, 1,939 are students, split about equally between on-campus and off-campus residence,” Plowman said.
“Our number of cases is increasing far too quickly, and we will need more drastic measures to stop the upward trajectory.”
Across the country, colleges and universities have reported more than 37,000 cases of coronavirus in all 50 states. And the semester has barely started.
Some campuses have already had to cancel in-person classes. Undergraduates at the University of West Virginia will have virtual learning until September 25 after the campus sees a peak in coronavirus in the first week and a half of class, WVU reported on Monday.
Like many campuses, the University of Tennessee is working to create more quarantine or isolation space as more students become infected.
“We have secured an additional hotel since yesterday to use it as an isolation space for students living on campus who test positive,” Plowman said Tuesday.
“We need more seclusion spaces. This hotel will not be enough. And we are in the process of creating more seclusion spaces on campus.”
Other universities have put in place curfews, restrictions on visitors and even confinements of fraternities and sororities as Covid-19 cases increase, Plowman said.
“We are evaluating a range of options, and let me be clear: everything is on the table at this point,” the Chancellor said.
She expressed her frustration over “fellowship leaders communicating to homes how to throw parties and avoid getting caught, avoid the police.” Stories of a fraternity renting an off-campus space to host their party, filled with lots of people in nearby neighborhoods. Tell fellowship members not to get tested, or how to get tested so the results are not shared with the university. “
“I don’t want to take it out on any part of our campus. And the truth is, the vast major of our community is working hard to do the right thing,” Plowman said. “It’s difficult, and we appreciate everyone’s efforts.”
CNN has reached out to the chairman of the University of Tennessee’s Interfraternity Council for comment.
Plowman said there are still ways to socialize safely, such as meeting friends outside and wearing a mask.
But she had a warning for those who encouraged others not to get tested or to take positive test results seriously:
“Actively working to avoid isolation and quarantine is reckless, and it will spread this virus further – jeopardizing everyone else’s ability to spend a fall semester on campus.”
CNN’s Rebekah Riess and Christina Zdanowicz contributed to this report.