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University of SC president tests positive for COVID-19

November 25, 2020 GMT

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — University of South Carolina President Bob Caslen said Wednesday that he has tested positive for the coronavirus.

Caslen said he tested positive Tuesday evening and is isolating at home, according to a news release, which added that he is asymptomatic.

Caslen, who was chosen to head the state’s largest institution of higher learning in 2019, gets tested at least three times a week for the virus. The positive test was administered through the university, which offers saliva-based and nasal swab tests to students, faculty and staff.

“I am in good health and continuing to work from home. I look forward to returning to the office as soon as possible,” Caslen said in a statement. “My diagnosis reinforces the need for everyone to get COVID tested regularly to protect yourself and your loved ones.”

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Caslen had announced earlier this week that the university would institute monthly mandatory testing for students, faculty and staff who work on campus or are enrolled in at least one face-to-face or hybrid class. Those living, learning or working on the Columbia campus will also have to show proof of testing before returning to school in the spring.

After reports of large crowds of students at Columbia bars, Caslen visited some establishments on Halloween night to see the conditions himself, WACH-TV reported. He also stopped by a neighborhood where thousands of students had gathered at an outdoor party earlier in the fall.

As of Monday, the university’s Columbia campus had tracked 133 active COVID-19 cases among students and staff. The school has recorded more than 3,000 cases since Aug. 1, according to an online dashboard.

Across the entire state, cases have begun spiking this fall. The Department of Health and Environmental Control reported 1,243 confirmed cases Wednesday and four additional deaths. The state has now tracked nearly 200,000 cases and more than 4,000 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

The state health department said it is taking a break from reporting daily COVID-19 numbers on Thanksgiving Day. Health officials will instead provide those daily counts in Friday’s report.

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Follow AP coverage of the pandemic at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak.