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Tracking Coronavirus Cases at U.S. Colleges and Universities

535,000+
Total cases
up30%
Since end of 2020

Coronavirus cases have continued to emerge by the tens of thousands this year at colleges, a New York Times survey has found, after students returned to campuses at a time when case numbers were soaring across much of the country.

More than 120,000 cases have been linked to American colleges and universities since Jan. 1, and more than 530,000 cases have been reported since the beginning of the pandemic. The Times has also identified more than 100 deaths involving college students and employees. The vast majority occurred in 2020 and involved employees.

Case Growth Rates On Campus Since the End of 2020

200%

or more

10%

50%

100%

150%

Each bar represents one school

Case Growth Rates On Campus

Since the End of 2020

Each bar represents one school

200%

or more

10%

50%

100%

150%

Small schools

Undergrad enrollment less than 5,000

Medium schools

5,000-15,000

Large schools

More than 15,000

Note: Growth rate is shown only for schools that had at least 50 cases in 2020.

Nearly a year after most universities abruptly shifted classes online and sent students home, the virus continues to upend American higher education. When many campuses reopened in the fall, outbreaks raced through dorms and infected thousands of students and employees.

Since students returned for the spring term, increased testing, social distancing rules and an improving national outlook have helped curb the spread on some campuses. At Ohio State, where the test positivity rate once peaked at about 5 percent, university officials reported a positivity rate of just 0.5 percent across 30,000 tests on campus in one recent week.

Still, major outbreaks continue. The Times surveyed more than 1,900 colleges and universities for coronavirus information and found at least 17 colleges have already reported more than 1,000 cases in 2021. At the University of Michigan, a highly infectious variant turned up on campus. At the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where more cases have been identified in 2021 than during the fall term, in-person classes are resuming after a difficult start to the year.

Despite surges at some colleges, there are positive signs. In counties with large populations of college students, coronavirus cases have been falling, mirroring a national trend in declining cases.

Case Rates in College Communities

Coronavirus cases in counties where college students make up at least 10 percent of the population compared with other counties.

College counties
Other counties
0
20
40
60
80 cases
per 100,000 residents
April 2020
July
Oct.
Jan. 2021
Fall Semester
(Sept. - Dec.)
Note: Case numbers are aggregated using a seven-day rolling average. | Sources: Counties are categorized using data from the 2018 American Community Survey. Case data is from a New York Times database as of Feb. 24.

With no national tracking system, and statewide data available only sporadically, colleges have been making their own rules for how to tally infections. While The Times’s survey is believed to be the most comprehensive account available, it is also an undercount.

Many universities, hoping to quickly identify cases and prevent broader outbreaks, have tested aggressively for the virus, detecting cases in some instances that might otherwise have been missed.

Among the colleges contacted by The Times, most have published case information online or responded to requests for case numbers. The Times has obtained case data through open records requests at several public universities that would not otherwise provide numbers. Most colleges do not publicly report coronavirus-related deaths.

Search for a school

The table includes more than 1,900 colleges and lists case totals where available. A few schools report only positive test results, which can include multiple tests for one person. Others were not clear about whether they counted positive test results or unique cases.

School
All
cases
2021
cases
Growth rate
County
Local cases trend

+

Alabama
14,650
cases at
30
schools

+

Alaska
145
cases at
3
schools

+

Arizona
14,878
cases at
9
schools

+

Arkansas
9,164
cases at
29
schools

+

California
17,377
cases at
81
schools

+

Colorado
10,907
cases at
29
schools

+

Connecticut
5,585
cases at
20
schools

+

Delaware
1,466
cases at
6
schools

+

Florida
28,704
cases at
127
schools

+

Georgia
19,943
cases at
39
schools

+

Guam
12
cases at
1
school

+

Hawaii
72
cases at
9
schools

+

Idaho
6,274
cases at
9
schools

+

Illinois
19,186
cases at
50
schools

+

Indiana
26,851
cases at
35
schools

+

Iowa
9,971
cases at
27
schools

+

Kansas
6,468
cases at
25
schools

+

Kentucky
12,452
cases at
54
schools

+

Louisiana
9,500
cases at
41
schools

+

Maine
824
cases at
15
schools

+

Maryland
4,949
cases at
21
schools

+

Massachusetts
10,476
cases at
59
schools

+

Michigan
19,498
cases at
52
schools

+

Minnesota
11,297
cases at
60
schools

+

Mississippi
5,609
cases at
15
schools

+

Missouri
14,806
cases at
37
schools

+

Montana
2,923
cases at
16
schools

+

Nebraska
7,155
cases at
14
schools

+

Nevada
2,485
cases at
7
schools

+

New Hampshire
2,328
cases at
20
schools

+

New Jersey
5,753
cases at
28
schools

+

New Mexico
1,311
cases at
12
schools

+

New York
21,925
cases at
210
schools

+

North Carolina
20,759
cases at
51
schools

+

North Dakota
4,849
cases at
13
schools

+

Ohio
24,940
cases at
62
schools

+

Oklahoma
7,219
cases at
21
schools

+

Oregon
3,189
cases at
18
schools

+

Pennsylvania
23,697
cases at
114
schools

+

Puerto Rico
98
cases at
4
schools

+

Rhode Island
3,199
cases at
9
schools

+

South Carolina
17,681
cases at
29
schools

+

South Dakota
1,078
cases at
9
schools

+

Tennessee
14,840
cases at
67
schools

+

Texas
42,237
cases at
85
schools

+

Utah
15,966
cases at
10
schools

+

Vermont
458
cases at
13
schools

+

Virgin Islands
6
cases at
1
school

+

Virginia
14,429
cases at
41
schools

+

Washington
5,206
cases at
45
schools

+

Washington, D.C.
1,354
cases at
7
schools

+

West Virginia
3,426
cases at
19
schools

+

Wisconsin
18,596
cases at
32
schools

+

Wyoming
2,431
cases at
4
schools
*Total is known to include one or more cases from a medical school, medical center, teaching hospital, clinical setting or other academic program in health sciences. †College reports only positive tests and may count duplicate cases. ‡College did not clarify whether data includes duplicate cases. Schools without case totals (indicated as —) either did not respond to inquiries, declined to provide information or did not separate 2020 and 2021 cases. Schools reporting zero cases or without case totals appear only when searched.

Note: Growth rate is shown only for schools that had at least 50 cases in 2020. The charts show seven-day rolling averages of new daily cases in the past 14 days in the county. The location of a university’s main campus is listed unless otherwise specified. In several instances, colleges noted that some cases were tied to branch campuses or satellite locations.

Given the disparities in size, reopening plans and transparency among universities, this data should not be used to make campus-to-campus comparisons. Some colleges subtract cases from their tallies once people recover. Some report only tests performed on campus. Some did not separate 2020 case data from 2021 case data. And some initially provided some data but then stopped. The calculation of growth rates for 2021 is in some cases skewed by the incomplete data colleges provide.

Infections linked to medical schools and teaching hospitals

School
Total cases
Medical program cases 2020
Medical program cases 2021
Location
University of Alabama at Birmingham
2,856
1,406
262
Birmingham, Ala.
University of California, San Diego
1,473
454
San Diego
University of Connecticut
1,144
90
Storrs, Conn.
University of South Florida
1,211
85
Tampa, Fla.
University of Washington
1,287
196
Seattle
University of California, San Francisco
454
305
163
San Francisco
University of Colorado Denver and Anschutz Medical Campus
110
81
Aurora, Colo.

The Times is counting reported cases among university students and employees in all fields, including those whose roles as doctors, nurses, pharmacists or medical students put them at higher risk of contracting the virus. Some universities have a broad range of programs, including medical units, and have reported dozens of cases tied to health care. Those cases are listed above as a subset of their universitywide totals.

Some universities did not provide data for cases at their medical schools, hospitals or clinics. Some included those cases in their campuswide counts but did not specify how many there were. Other universities that are primarily focused on medical training, or that reported small numbers of cases tied to clinical programs, are listed in the main table on this page with an asterisk.

Tracking the Coronavirus