COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - The University of South Carolina has expanded its quarantine and isolation spaces for students as the number of cases on campus continue to rise.
As of Friday, Sept. 4, there are a total of 1,461 active cases of COVID-19 at UofSC, according to the school’s dashboard.
Of those cases, 1,443 are students and 18 are employees.
This is an increase of 435 active cases since Tuesday.
Note those are active cases -- meaning those people are currently infected.
When looking at the total number of people who have had COVID-19 at UofSC since Aug. 1, the number of cases grows to 1,735.
One of the biggest issues facing the university is quarantine and isolation space. As of Friday, nearly 73% of the school’s isolation space is full.
Friday morning, school officials said they recently acquired 132 beds at the SpringHill Suites hotel in downtown Columbia.
Watch the full announcement from Friday morning (story continues below):
UofSC Vice President for Student Affairs, Stacey Bradley, explained acquiring additional quarantine space has been part of the university’s plan since the beginning.
“At no point will we be in a position where our capacity is full,” she said. “We will continue to monitor and continue to adjust. We have that flexibility and that surge space built into our plan so that, at any point, we can draw on additional resources to make sure we have that needed capacity.”
The university also noted around 200 students will be completing their quarantine over the next five days.
Students who live on campus and test positive are given the opportunity to return home to quarantine or to stay in one of the university’s isolation spaces, but those students cannot leave that room for 10 to 14 days.
“We have a call center to call and check in periodically with off-campus students that are in quarantine that we’re aware of,” Bradley said. ”So we’re really trying to do everything we can to provide that holistic support.”
While UofSC is seeing high case numbers, that’s only one of 11 factors they’re considering when they look at COVID-19′s impact.
As of Friday, the campus safety alert level remains low.
Executive Director of Student Health Services, Debbie Beck, says the university has been in constant communication with DHEC, and they believe those infected students and staff are not affecting the greater Columbia community.
“At this point, there is no evidence of community spread beyond our students,” Beck said. “We know that our students often are together. They’re hanging out together in smaller groups and larger groups and we are looking, and that’s where we are seeing the spread.”
Even if the university believes these infected students and staff aren’t spreading the virus to the greater Columbia community, some Richland County parents are concerned the number of cases on campus will cause the surrounding area to remain at high spread, thus leading school officials to keep classes completely online.
A Department of Education spokesman said the situation on the UofSC campus is concerning, but in large counties like Richland, staff will be looking at case spread within specific zip codes.
The agency said it’s possible certain schools in a district could decide to offer in-person learning options, but they note the 29201 and 29205 zip codes of downtown Columbia and the Five Points area could impact Richland One schools.