Students at the University of North Carolina, which has now suspended in-class instruction, August 17, 2020 (Julia Wall/AP)

American universities are feeding the ongoing Coronavirus outbreak, with the US death toll passing 175,000 and no sign of a Trump Administration retreat from the demand for complete in-class instruction.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump’s executive orders bypassing Congress and a $2 trillion relief package have all but disappeared.

US deaths reached 175,406, with 1,123 in 24 hours. The increase was more than 1,000 for the fourth day in a row.

Confirmed cases are 5,623,727, a rise of 48,541.

The University of North Carolina suspended classes this week, only days after the semester began, when 130 students tested positive. Notre Dame in Indiana, with 146 cases, Michigan State, and Drexel and Pittsburgh Universities in Pennyslvania have switched to mainly on-line instruction.

Investigations have been launched at Pennsylvania State University and College of the Holy Cross in Massachusetts into large gatherings with no social distancing and masks. In Indiana, at least 36 Purdue University students have been suspended. East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina has identified clusters in a dormitory and among the football team.

At Syracuse University in New York, at least 23 students have been suspended after a small group turned into a large party within 15 minutes. Vice Chancellor Michael Haynie berated students as “selfish and reckless”.

Student newspapers had complementary messages, criticizing inadequate preparations for the new academic year and a lack of information.

Notre Dame’s Observer addressed students, faculty, and administrators with a list of obituaries that it does not want to write.

“Don’t make us write yours,” the editorial admonished.

The University of Maryland’s Diamondback highlighted the campus’s reliance on room-and-board money.

But chasing that money means literally risking lives and contributing to the spread of the virus in the state and the county — an area that has already been hit hard.

Jeopardizing the health of the community by reopening is unconscionable, especially considering that, with about 86 percent of undergraduate course sections already fully online, there is no need to invite most students back at all.

Trump’s Disappearing Orders

Angered and worried by the success of the Democratic National Convention and its ticket of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, Donald Trump said and tweeted little on Friday.

Two weeks ago, Trump declared his authority with a set of executive orders after the White House cut off negotiations with Democratic leaders over a Coronavirus relief package, despite House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer reducing a $3.4 trillion plan to a $2 trillion compromise.

But only one state, Arizona, has adopted the Administration’s $400/week unemployment benefit, reduced from $600/week and conditional on states paying the first $100.

About 28 million Americans have been receiving the support, but the Administration blocked the House from extending the $600/week to the end of the year. About 1.1 million filed new applications last week, the 21st week out of 22 that filings have topped a million.

Few evictions from Federal housing have been paused despite a Trump order which, stopping short of a command to halt the process, issued guidance to homeowners and tenants. Employers have said that workers will not benefit from Trump’s suspension of payroll tax, which is threatening revenues for Social Security.

Thirteen states have been approved to deliver the $400/week. Montana and Kentucky have set they will pay the first $100. But most have not said if they will proceed, and South Dakota has rejected the initiative.

Administration officials have said little about the slow progress. Instead, National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow boasted that Trump’s orders had boosted the stock market.

Even that might be short-lived: the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which manages the disaster relief fund being used for the payments, said funds only cover three weeks of payments.

State unemployment officials called for a Congressional package. But the White House continues to refuse a resumption of talks.

“President Trump has provided relief for American workers, where Congressional Democrats have failed,” White House spokesman Judd Deere said.

US GDP fell 9.5% between April and June, an annual rate of 32.9%, the greatest decline since economic records began.