Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Universities that brought students back to campus have already seen a rough start to the fall, with more than 50,000 infections across the country. But some have seemingly cracked the code.

The big picture: A number of schools have managed to open up while quelling or even preventing outbreaks, either because they’re effectively testing and tracing or because they’ve got smaller student bodies and more rural locations.

While many bigger universities in cities decided to start off with remote learning, smaller campuses in smaller towns — like Colby College in Waterville, Maine, and Middlebury College in Middlebury, Vermont — welcomed students with negative test results back, betting that the relative isolation could keep infections at bay.

  • So far, that seems to be working, says Joshua Salomon, a professor of medicine at Stanford.

Other campuses that have effectively navigated reopening include Wesleyan University in Connecticut and Ohio's Stark State College.

  • Wesleyan stands out because it is committed to giving students opportunities to safely hang out with one another — unlike many campuses, which are desperately attempting to stop socialization.
  • No infections have been traced back to Stark State since it opened for in-person classes months ago, ABC reports. Its success is partly due to the fact that it's a community college with 80% of students learning online already.

The catch: Some large universities are running aggressive testing campaigns, but they're still seeing high numbers of infections.

  • Experts have pointed to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, which has been testing students twice a week, as an example of the right way to reopen. But the university has seen a sharp uptick in cases recently.
  • "What's happening at UIUC is emblematic of what's happening all over the country," Salomon says. "It's very hard to get people to isolate for 14 days."
  • To prevent infections from turning into outbreaks, he says, bigger colleges should make sure dorms are clean and comfortable and offer easy meal delivery so infected students don't see quarantine as a nuisance or a punishment.

The bottom line: These success stories show that reopening can work, but typically only at small, rural campuses. At the big universities, even the best-laid plans inevitably come apart.

Go deeper

The pandemic is getting worse again

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Data: The COVID Tracking Project, state health departments; Note: Due to a database error, Missouri had a 3 day gap in reporting from Oct. 11-13; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Every available piece of data proves it: The coronavirus pandemic is getting worse again, all across America.

The big picture: As the death toll ticks past 212,000, at a moment when containing the virus ought to be easier and more urgent than ever, we are instead giving it a bigger foothold to grow from.

Unrest in Philadelphia after fatal police shooting of Black man

Demonstrators rally on Tuesday near the location where Walter Wallace was killed by two police officers in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Photo: Mark Makela/Getty Images

The Pennsylvania National Guard was mobilized Tuesday during a tense second night of protests in Philadelphia over the fatal police shooting of Walter Wallace, a 27-year-old Black man.

Driving the news: Philadelphia Jim Kenney (D) and Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said in a joint statement Monday that police were launching a "full investigation" to answer questions that arose from video that captured part of the incident with police.

Updated 53 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Politics: Obama: Trump is "jealous of COVID's media coverage" Axios-Ipsos poll: Federal response has only gotten worse.
  2. Health: Hospitals face a crush — 13 states set single-day case records last week.
  3. Business: Winter threat spurs new surge of startup activity.
  4. Media: Pandemic causes TV providers to lose the most subscribers ever.
  5. States: Nearly two dozen Minnesota cases traced to three Trump campaign events.
  6. World: Putin mandates face masks.