WORCESTER (CBS) – The number of COVID cases in Worcester is rising after reports of Holy Cross students throwing off-campus parties.

A home health care worker who lives nearby said her client’s wife works at the college and expressed concerns about students being more social than distant.

“It is concerning,” she said. “She tells me all the time – [on] the campus, they’re having parties.”

It’s exactly what school officials feared. Students returning to campus, throwing parties, and the virus spreading. The College of the Holy Cross is confirming 21 new cases tonight, linked to off-campus parties held two weeks ago. Anyone who attended or had direct contact with a partygoer is being advised to quarantine.

A sign at the College of the Holy Cross reminds students to social distance. (WBZ-TV)

“We have continued to work with our students living in the Worcester area on the importance of following social distancing guidelines, wearing a mask when in public, and doing everything they can to help slow the spread of the coronavirus,” Holy Cross said in a statement

People who live near campus are now worried about the virus spreading.

“They need to stop that because this thing is real,” said David Njenga, who was exercising without a mask.

The city has been working with the college to identify those who tested positive. They also plan to meet with college officials to discuss a plan to prevent the coronavirus spread on and off-campus.

“In the wake of COVID-positive student cases at Holy Cross, the city has been working collaboratively with the college to identify those who have tested positive as well as those who need to be quarantined,” said City Manager Edward Augustus.

Earlier this month, the College of the Holy Cross said its public safety officers found a large number of people at a party not wearing masks or practicing social distancing guidelines. The college posted a statement on its website about the incident, saying, “This behavior violates state and local guidelines as well as the Holy Cross Community Commitment, which students acknowledged and agreed to in July. Needless to say, this is a profoundly disappointing situation. The students responsible for the party will be held accountable under our Community Standards process.”

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