About three weeks ago, the University of Mississippi started its fall semester, bringing students from around the country back to Lafayette County. The university had hoped its mix of in-person and online classes and mask-wearing guidelines, among other measures, would be enough to prevent an outbreak.
On paper, the college appears to be doing well. According to recent numbers, the University of Mississippi has recorded about 430 confirmed cases since Aug. 24, the first day of classes in Oxford, and still has plenty of housing for those who have been infected or exposed to the virus.
Data in Lafayette County, home to the Mississippi flagship, paint a starker picture. An analysis by USA TODAY shows the county has one of the highest per-capita rates of coronavirus infections in the country, at 1,053 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people in the last two weeks.