COVID-19 outbreak at University of Chicago; school blames frat parties

State health officials on Thursday again reported over 3,700 new COVID-19 cases and 34 more deaths, with the positivity rate ticking up slightly to 4.2 percent.

A cluster of cases at the University of Chicago is forcing a "stay-at-home" order and the school is blaming the outbreak on frat parties. There is concern the cases could be linked to the UK variant.


Student Tristen Freel says for several weeks now, he has masked up, stayed away from crowds and even received his vaccine. Unfortunately, he and other students on campus must now endure urgent restrictions.

"It’s kind of ignorant to the situation that everyone’s dealing with. And it affects the seniors and their graduation, and it's just a terrible situation," Freel said.

The dean of students says the recent cases may be connected to parties held last week by off-campus fraternities. The 50 cases include students living in residence halls.

"It’s scaring a lot of people here, especially workers," said Eboni Etheridge, who works on campus.

University leaders say they are especially concerned fearing the cases could involve the B.1.1.7 COVID-19 variant that is now making its way through the US. It is known to spread quicker and cause more severe diseases.

Effective immediately, students living in resident halls must adhere to the "stay-at-home" order for one week. Undergraduate in-person classes will be remote for those seven days.

In addition, food at the commons will be takeout only.