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USC President Bob Caslen tests positive for COVID-19: 'Protect yourself & your loved ones'

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John A. Carlos II (copy) (copy)

USC President Bob Caslen has tested positive for COVID-19. File/John A. Carlos II/Special to The Post and Courier

COLUMBIA — University of South Carolina President Bob Caslen announced Wednesday he tested positive for COVID-19, a day after students ended in-person classes for the fall semester.

"On Tuesday evening, I tested positive for the coronavirus," Caslen tweeted. "I’m in good health, and I’m continuing to work while isolating at home. My diagnosis reinforces the need for everyone to get COVID-19 tested regularly to protect yourself & your loved ones."

Caslen is asymptomatic. His positive result came from a routine test, USC spokesman Larry Thomas said. Caslen receives at least three COVID-19 tests a week.

USC does not know where Caslen might have been infected. No relatives or staffers in his office have tested positive, but contact tracing is underway, Thomas said.

Caslen went to USC's football game against Missouri on Saturday and held a reception. People who attended the reception are part of contact tracing efforts, Thomas said.

On Monday, Caslen tweeted that he planned to hold his weekly workout with students, faculty and staff on Tuesday morning, hours before he learned about his positive test. Thomas said he did not know if Caslen attended the workout.

Caslen's COVID-19 infection will not slow USC's search for a permanent successor to football coach Will Muschamp, fired this month after five seasons, Thomas said.

Caslen is taking part in the process of interviewing and choosing a new leader for the Gamecocks' most prominent sports program. The president has been using videoconferencing to conduct his work, Thomas said.

USC ended in-person classes for the semester on Tuesday as a precaution to avoid having infected students return to campus after the Thanksgiving break. Remaining fall classes and final exams will be held online.

In-person classes will resume in January, but students and faculty will need to get tested before courses resume and they must be tested monthly.

USC had one of the largest college outbreaks in the nation when students returned to campus in late August, but cases fell dramatically with the school crediting improved contact tracing and quarantining, start of a citywide mask mandate and ongoing wastewater testing to spot infection spikes. 

Cases statewide have begun rising as more activities take place inside with the start of cooler fall weather. State health officials have expressed concerns about a further uptick after the Thanksgiving holiday when many families are expected to gather.

Caslen is among the most prominent South Carolinians announce publicly they contracted the virus.

Other include Lt. Gov. Pam Evette, U.S. Reps. Tom Rice and Joe Cunningham, U.S. Rep.-elect Nancy Mace and S.C. Agriculture Commissioner Hugh Weathers. S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson quarantined this month after he was exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19. 

Follow Andy Shain on Facebook (andyshain12) and Twitter (@andyshain)

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