COVID-19 Roundup: Cases, Coaches and a Class Action Lawsuit

This weekend, another high-profile football coach tested positive. Two programs moved online and another discovered an asymptomatic outbreak. A university is suing its insurer.

October 19, 2020

This week, two institutions have ceased in-person classes and another has discovered an alarming number of asymptomatic cases. One university has filed a lawsuit against its insurance company. A high-profile football coach has tested positive.

On Friday, the United States reported 70,000 new cases of the coronavirus, the highest number since late July, according to The New York Times. After a trough in the curve mid-September, cases are once again trending upward.

It’s been a difficult week for the University of Florida football program. Head coach Dan Mullen has tested positive for COVID-19 and is self-isolating, according to a note posted to his Twitter account. The diagnosis comes after Mullen took heavy criticism last week for saying he hopes the university administration will allow 90,000 fans in the UF stadium popularly known as the Swamp. Last Tuesday, the university paused all football activities, including a game with Louisiana State University, due to a high number of COVID-19 cases among the team. As of last Wednesday, 21 players and two coaches had tested positive, leaving the team with fewer than the conference mandated 53 scholarship players, ESPN has reported.

Purdue University announced Sunday that Jeff Brohm, the head football coach, "returned a presumed positive result via an antigen test. We are awaiting confirmation," KIRO News reported.

Nick Saban, head football coach at the University of Alabama, similarly announced Wednesday that he had tested positive. But on Saturday morning, after a series of tests, the university announced that its medical team concluded Saban had initially received a false positive and does not actually have the disease. He coached Alabama Saturday night to a victory against the University of Georgia.

Carroll College, an institution of a little more than 1,000 students in Helena, Mont., discovered late last week that over 6 percent of its student body had COVID-19, the Fairfield Sun Times has reported. The college expanded asymptomatic testing, revealing 68 new cases, nearly all asymptomatic, college officials have said.

Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management switched all M.B.A. classes to remote late last week, informing students on Friday evening, ABC7 has reported. The switch is meant to last two weeks. Four M.B.A. students have tested positive for COVID-19 and more than 50 were linked to multiple large gatherings last week.

The University of Chicago's Booth School of Business similarly announced Thursday that it would be switching to remote instruction for two weeks after more than 100 M.B.A. students attended an off-campus gathering and some tested positive.

Last week the College of Wooster, an institution of about 2,000 students in Ohio, announced it would be suspending in-person classes for the rest of the semester. Sixty-one students tested positive this week. Students will still be allowed to live on campus.

The college on Oct. 10 moved all classes online, suspended in-person meetings and athletics practices, closed libraries, and carried out new social restrictions for what was meant to be a one-week period.

A class action lawsuit has been filed against Zurich American Insurance Company on behalf of Lindenwood University, a liberal arts college in Missouri, and similarly situated institutions. The university, which holds a property insurance policy from Zurich, argues in the complaint that the company’s denial of coverage and refusal to pay claims related to COVID-19 losses is a breach of contract and derogatory judgement. The university closed down its campus in March, as most other institutions did, and has not been able to use its insured property as it had previously and has suffered related financial losses.

The company has maintained that COVID-19 cannot create loss or damage to insured property. Lindenwood has countered that the risk of COVID-19 on the property eliminates its habitability and utility, constituting direct physical loss or damage.


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