Survey finds more than 26,000 coronavirus cases at US universities since pandemic began

Survey finds more than 26,000 coronavirus cases at US universities since pandemic began
© Getty Images

A New York Times survey found more than 26,000 coronavirus cases have been reported at U.S. universities since the beginning of the pandemic. 

The newspaper surveyed more than 1,500 American colleges and universities to determine that more than 26,000 cases and 64 deaths have been identified at more than 750 institutions. 

The data comes as many college students across the nation are returning to in-person instruction and COVID-19 cases have been uncovered in dorms, Greek rows and at college bars in the past few weeks. 


Seven large public universities in the South have documented more than 500 cases each, and more than 30 institutions have reported more than 200 each, the Times noted.

The survey included every four-year public institution, every private college that competes in NCAA sports and others that have reported cases. 

Due to reporting differences between the institutions, the Times highlighted the number of cases throughout the entire pandemic, noting all cases may not be currently active. 

“While this is believed to be the most comprehensive survey available, it is also an undercount,” the Times wrote, noting at least 600 institutions ignored inquiries or refused to answer questions, and more than 150 counted zero cases. 

Many university officials have instituted strict guidelines for students to follow, but large gatherings and high case counts have continued. 

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, which moved classes online after cases emerged, has reported more than 800 cases, according to the database. Notre Dame University, which similarly shifted classes online, has counted more than 470 cases since the beginning of the pandemic.

The Times noted that some universities' high case numbers could be due to their large student populations or because some institutions count cases from students or employees working in health care. 

For instance, the University of Alabama at Birmingham tops the Times list with 972 cases, but the total includes cases from a medical school, medical center, teaching hospital or clinical setting.