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USC committed to in-person classes despite spike in COVID-19 cases

The University of South Carolina now says it has 557 active cases of the coronavirus on campus.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — The University of South Carolina now says it has 557 active cases of the coronavirus on campus, according to the latest data released late Friday afternoon.

That includes 553 students and 4 employees. That was 210 new cases just based on Thursday's testing. Overall, since August 1, there have been 620 total student cases and 14 employees. According to the university, that moves the school's alert status from "new normal" to "low." 

Earlier this week, there were 189 active cases, with 188 of those being students, but that data was only through Tuesday, August 25. These numbers are current through Thursday. August 27. 

A week ago, there were only about 86 active cases. 

In all cases, students were either asymptomatic or experiencing very minor COVID-19 symptoms prior to their tests and none require hospitalization.

The school says it's conducted 10,485 tests, and that the number of student cases represents 1.1 percent of the school's population.

The school also announced a sixth Greek Village house is on quarantine. 

University of South Carolina President Bob Caslen issued the following statement:

“I remain committed to ensuring in-person classes are held at the University of South Carolina this fall. While this week’s rise in the number of positive COVID cases concerns me, we always knew that there would be a rise in cases once the entire campus community returned. Fortunately, all of our cases to date have been minor and our key dashboard indicators are well within the modeled parameters. As I’ve said repeatedly, we will take the steps needed through education--and if necessary, student discipline--to slow the spread of the virus within our campus community.”

The school earlier placed five sororities and fraternities houses at the Greek Village on quarantine after students there tested positive. 

RELATED: Three more USC Greek Houses placed in quarantine due to COVID cases

The school just resumed classes eight days ago, and students began moving in a few days or two weeks prior, depending on if they were involved in Greek life or other activities. 

Students who test positive are relocated to isolation or have the option to return home. This follows Monday’s action to place two other houses into quarantine after three or more residents tested positive. 

RELATED: Some students 'not surprised' by COVID-19 cases on USC campus

The school has said students who break quarantine face possible suspension from class and campus activities. 

The school's newspaper, The Daily Gamecock, tweeted a video Friday morning which showed a long line to get the test outside the student health center.

The Columbia City Council has been worried about the concern of students to campus, and just this week passed an updated ordinance that increases penalties for tenants and landlords who hold large house parties. 

RELATED: Columbia passes rule cracking down on house parties