(AP Photo/Steve Helber)
(AP Photo/Steve Helber)

After inviting students to return to campus last week despite the novel coronavirus pandemic, Liberty University in Lynchburg now has nearly a dozen students exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19.

The New York Times reported that Dr. Thomas Eppes, the physician running the school’s student health center, sent three students to local hospitals for testing and asked eight others to self-quarantine.

Liberty University president Jerry Falwell made the bizarre decision last week to require 1,900 students to return after spring break, to either live in dorms and take their classes online, or to move out. The Times reported that 800 had since left the campus.

But those who remain are able to use libraries and other school facilities. Falwell has said the university would follow Gov. Ralph Northam’s order that no more than 10 people gather at once, but the Times reports that students are “flouting” those rules.

Meanwhile, Virginia health officials said that 22 people had died after contracting COVID-19 as of Sunday. Overall, the state has reported nearly 900 cases and about 100 hospitalizations due to the virus outbreak.