Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

College media outlets are calling out their universities for failing to address the potentially-devastating communal spread of COVID-19 in their college towns.

Why it matters: With local newspapers in decline, campus papers have increasingly become the default for how students and community members get their news.

The big picture: Media reports and viral videos have pinpointed parties and social gatherings as the main culprit of cases across campuses so far, a problem students say universities should have prepared for. Instead, the schools are blaming the students.

  • "We all saw this coming," The Daily Tar Heel, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's student newspaper, wrote in an editorial that went viral last week.
  • UNC reverted to in-person learning just one week into the school year after clusters of coronavirus cases sprouted throughout student living areas.

The Daily Tar Heel is one of a number of campus papers that have been reporting on the mass crowds and concerns from students about super-spreader events:

  • At Penn State University, Onward State reported on a petition asking the university to send freshmen home that garnered more than 2,500 signatures.
  • At Syracuse University, The Daily Orange reported on a video of at least 100 students partying on the Quad with no masks and no social distancing less than a week before classes were set to begin.
  • The University of Notre Dame's The Observer posted a front-page editorial Friday titled, "Don't make us write obituaries," after the university closed campus.
    • "The University administration has largely blamed the COVID-19 outbreak on students attending off-campus parties," the editorial said. "While this isn't entirely misplaced, it has been used to deflect responsibility from the very administrations that insisted they were prepared for us to return to campus."
  • Oklahoma State University's The Ocolly quoted a professor who said about students congregating at bars, "This is very disappointing, frightening and 100% predictable."
  • The University of Alabama's The Crimson White wrote an editorial after clusters of cases emerged titled: "No, President Bell, we won’t be your PR."

What to watch: Colleges that decided to reopen their campuses promised precautionary measures for classes and move-in procedures. Some administrators are now getting the local police involved to break up parties and large gatherings off-campus.

  • Universities have generally threatened suspension and other punishments for those who do not wear masks or observe social distancing rules.

Go deeper

Coronavirus hospitalizations are on the rise

Expand chart
Data: The COVID Tracking ProjectHarvard Global Health Institute; Cartogram: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Coronavirus hospitalizations are increasing in 39 states, and are at or near their all-time peak in 16.

The big picture: No state is anywhere near the worst-case situation of not having enough capacity to handle its COVID-19 outbreak. But rising hospitalization rates are a sign that things are getting worse, at a dangerous time, and a reminder that this virus can do serious harm.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Politics: Trump says if Biden's elected, "he'll listen to the scientists"Trump calls Fauci a "disaster" on campaign call.
  2. Health: Coronavirus hospitalizations are on the rise — 8 states set single-day coronavirus case records last week.
  3. States: Wisconsin judge reimposes capacity limit on indoor venues.
  4. Media: Trump attacks CNN as "dumb b*stards" for continuing to cover pandemic.
  5. Business: Consumer confidence surveys show Americans are getting nervousHow China's economy bounced back from coronavirus.
  6. Sports: We've entered the era of limited fan attendance.
  7. Education: Why education technology can’t save remote learning.

Trump says if Biden's elected, "he'll listen to the scientists"

Combination images of President Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images/Rey Del Rio/Getty Images

The Biden campaign slammed President Trump after he said at a Nevada rally Sunday if his Democratic presidential rival Joe Biden were elected there'd be more coronavirus pandemic lockdowns because "he'll listen to the scientists."

What he's saying: "If I listened totally to the scientists, we would right now have a country that would be in a massive depression," Trump said.