Notre Dame's President calls COVID-19 "a formidable foe" and said "it has been winning. Let us as the Fighting Irish join together to contain it.”

In a statement released on the University of Notre Dame's website, President Reverend John I. Jenkins announced that "in-person classes for the University’s undergraduate students are suspended until Sept. 2 and for graduate and professional students until Aug. 24, replaced by remote instruction only because positive rates for the coronavirus continue to climb."

NBC reported that 19 percent of all Notre Dame student-tested were positive. Their two-week suspension for the 12k students comes a day after the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill made a similar announcement. On Tuesday Michigan State University ordered undergrads to stay home for the rest of the fall.

So far in the United States, 175,093 people have died due to COVID-19. The country has the highest number of cases of the coronavirus in the world, with 5.65 million cases to date.

On Tuesday the World Health Organization announced that young people are becoming the primary drivers of the spread of the novel coronavirus in many countries.

“People in their 20s, 30s, and 40s are increasingly driving the spread,” Takeshi Kasai, the WHO’s Western Pacific regional director, said. “The epidemic is changing.”

In the Notre Dame statement, Fr Jenkins said "With the advice and encouragement of Dr. Mark Fox of the St. Joseph County Health Department, we believe we can take steps short of sending students home for remote instruction, at least for the time being, while still protecting the health and safety of the campus community,” Father Jenkins told students in a virtual meeting this afternoon.

“The virus is a formidable foe,” Jenkins added.

“For the past week, it has been winning. Let us as the Fighting Irish join together to contain it.”

Read more: Coronavirus live updates from Ireland

The statement pointed out that most of those who tested positive were residing off-campus, It ads that the infections are linked to off-campus gatherings where neither masks were worn nor physical distancing observed.

“Our contact-tracing analysis indicates that most infections are coming from off-campus gatherings,” Fr Jenkins said.

“Students infected at those gathering passed it on to others, who in turn have passed the virus on to others, resulting in the positive cases we have seen.”

Father Jenkins also asked  Notre Dame students to help identify those who have been flagrantly violating safety protocols.

“For your sake and the sake of our community and for continuing our semester on campus, please observe health protocols and avoid behavior that puts yourself or others at risk,” Fr Jenkins said.

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