(MARYVILLE, Mo.) Nodaway County is seeing a surge of COVID-19 cases as students return to Northwest Missouri State University.
On Monday, Northwest's website stated there are currently 125 active COVID-19 cases in Nodaway County, 52 of those cases are from NWMSU students or employees. Of the 331 positive coronavirus tests since April 2nd, 140 of those positive tests have been NWMSU students and staff.
“As long as everyone is wearing a mask, I’m okay with it. But, I feel like school’s just gonna get shut down anyway,” said Haydon Sackett, Sophomore at Northwest Missouri State University.
Maryville city officials attribute the spike in cases to college-aged students contracting and spreading the virus.
“The large percentage of our community returning is college-aged students that you’re gonna see an increase in numbers in those sectors,” said Greg McDanel, Maryville City Manager.
City leaders worry the surge of cases could overwhelm the city by, “Creating a situation that may be unmanageable for this community and for our educational institutions,” said McDanel.
Maryville does have an acting mask mandate that was implemented in late July after the city saw a local surge in cases. City officials said the mask mandate did initially help reduce that curve, but McDanel said once students returned to campus, their cases jumped dramatically.
“That seemed to lower the trend for a while, obviously until the large population section moved back. It’s a numbers game in trying to get as many people wearing masks and taking other preventative measures, like social distancing, hand washing and taking it seriously as we move forward in the semester. Hopefully, being able to continue to have businesses and education continue and operate,” said McDanel.
NWMSU students said they think going back to remote learning is inevitable.
“It’s bound to happen that the school is gonna shut down cause even by my house there’s plenty of parties and sure, kids can live their lives and stuff, but there’s gonna be consequences for it,” said Sackett.
In a written statement to KQ2, the Nodaway County Health Department said, "Young people are in position to determine in large part what happens this fall in their colleges and universities. I would encourage them to be responsible and adhere to guidance. There are support systems in place to facilitate a learning experience but these depend on everyone doing their part,” said Tom Patterson.
While students said they would like to stay on campus, they said in-person learning won't last too much longer.
“It’s bound to happen, so might as well just make the most of it while I’m in class. Socialize with as many people as I can, stuff like that,” said Sackett.
McDanel said the city is closely working with Northwest Missouri State University to mitigate this surge and hopes it will be enough to keep students in class this fall.