White House Said to Keep Sick Kids on Campus. Emails Reveal the Messy Reality.

Last Monday, top officials on the White House coronavirus task force issued an urgent warning to governors across the country: Stop sending your COVID-infected college students home to their parents or risk another nationwide surge, just like the one that overwhelmed the South this summer.



a group of people walking on the court: Sean Rayford/Getty


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So far, the task force’s request for governors to talk to their college presidents appears to have made little difference. By the end of the week, some colleges in the country’s biggest coronavirus hot spots not only were still allowing students to go home after they’d been exposed or infected—they were ordering them to.

“You need to relocate, as soon as possible, to your home or other off-campus location for the duration of your self-isolation period,” said a form letter sent Wednesday from the Office of the Dean at Georgia Southern University to on-campus students who reported being exposed to or infected with the coronavirus. The university even tried to run students in off-campus housing out of town, telling them to “return home to self-isolate as soon as possible,” according to the email, obtained by The Daily Beast.

That lack of containment has had severe consequences. Statesboro, the small town where Georgia Southern is located, registered more than 700 positive coronavirus cases during the last two weeks in August. It was one of the highest per capita rates of increase in any United States metro area during that stretch, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

“I have parents in their seventies visiting me this holiday weekend, and I’m scared to death for them to come to our small little town,” Leticia McGrath, a professor of Spanish at Georgia Southern University for over two decades, told The Daily Beast. “It’s bad.”

In the month since students began traveling back to their college campuses, coronavirus hot zones have migrated with them. Now many of the cities and towns where cases are surging fastest—places like Iowa City, Auburn, Statesboro, and Ames—are college towns. And while lax policies toward containment on and off-campus have created local breeding grounds for the virus, they’re not expected to stay local long, with sick students leaving campus and fall weather increasing viral spread.

“The original sin was inviting the students back to campus,” said Michael Innis-Jimenez, a professor of American studies at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, where more than 2,000 students tested positive for the coronavirus in the last three weeks.  “And now it’s going to be very problematic to get them home. I think they finally saw that at the White House.”

Still, the White House response to the virus has been anything but consistent. Last Sunday, the White House coronavirus task force urged Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds to issue a statewide mask mandate, noting the state now had the highest number of new infections in the country. The governor publicly disagreed with the proposal. Four days later, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams sided with Reynolds, telling a local news

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Interior Designer Eliza Gran Shares Her Perfectly Messy Pavlova Recipe

The pavlova—a layer cake of meringue, cream, and fresh fruit—has some qualities in common with Eliza Gran’s approach to design. Pavlovas are elegant, versatile, and balanced. For the top, you use what you have. And in order to make the most beautiful pavlova, you have to have the confidence to make a mess.

Chickens, ducks, turkeys, and dogs roam freely across Eliza Gran’s Los Angeles living room, where freshly cut flowers are crowded lusciously into one of a kind vases, and vintage textiles, records, and books adorn most corners. “It’s always been super important to me that home is a nice place to be, with a lot of books, a lot of good music, food, flowers…” she says. “It needs to be a place where your kids and their friends want to hang out—otherwise they’ll turn 13 and you’ll never see them again.”

A snapshot of Eliza Gran’s Los Angeles home.
Photo: Courtesy of Eliza Gran / @elizagranstudio

When Gran moved from New York to California, long before eggs were sparse in American supermarkets mid-pandemic, she replaced her Brooklyn-bought dozens with brown, white, and blue eggs pinched from her birds’ respective coops. In between appointments with her interior design clients, Gran maintains her acres of trees that fruit everything from blood oranges to guavas.

Gran’s sunny ecosystem, in which she tends to animals, vegetation, and her three teenagers, grew from sad circumstances. Gran had initially moved away from New York, where she grew up, for her husband’s job. Their family lived in a small cottage on the Venice canals, where Gran had developed her now-omnipresent handmade pom pom baskets. But then her dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, and Gran realized her life needed to change in order to support him and her mother.

“I thought, ok, I’ll take a couple months off the pom pom baskets—which were going insane! It was like, there were 200 stores. We were shipping constantly, it was this crazy scene. And people were starting to copy me but I was like, ok, it’s not out of control yet.” It was at the peak of the pom-poms that she was back in Brooklyn, preparing her family home to be sold and making plans for her elderly parents to move to Los Angeles.

Gran’s parents’ Park Slope house, which was a gem of property she describes as a “decrepit, beautiful mess” with fireplaces in every room, was eventually sold. She found a place in the Valley that could accommodate both of her parents, with room for carers and enough enclosure to stop her father from wandering off. But as things in life go, her mother passed away before the big move. Her father came to L.A., but the new landscape and the absence of his wife was too much. Gran lost both of her parents, and her childhood home. Then, with her business besieged by imitators around the world, Gran closed her company.

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