A 19-year-old undergraduate student at Appalachian State University in North Carolina died Monday night from complications from Covid-19, school officials said Tuesday.
Chad Dorrill, a seemingly healthy sophomore, was living off campus and taking all of his classes online when he developed flu-like symptoms earlier this month, university officials said in a statement.
He went to his family’s home, tested positive for coronavirus and placed in quarantine. After receiving a doctor’s clearance, he returned to his off-campus accommodation where he developed complications and was taken by his family and hospitalized, the university said.
“Any loss of life is a tragedy, but the grief gets particularly deep as we mourn a young man who had so much life ahead of him,”
Appalachian State Chancellor Sheri Everts wrote in a letter to students: “Your family’s wishes are that the university share a common call to action so that the entire campus community recognizes the importance of following COVID-19 security protocols and guidelines “.
“Although they are generally at lower risk of serious illness, college-age adults can become seriously ill from Covid-19,” Everts said.
Many universities and colleges across the country have become coronavirus hotspots. Chad’s death marks the first death in the University of North Carolina system since several campuses were partially reopened in September, according to the Associated Press.
A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday found that from August 2 to September 25, the number of weekly coronavirus cases among people aged 18-22 increased by 55% nationwide, with highest increases in the Northeast and Midwest. The increase in cases was not solely attributable to the increase in testing, the report said.
Another recent CDC report found that the incidence of the coronavirus is now highest among young adults aged 20-29, who accounted for over 20% of all confirmed cases from June to August.
Appalachian State, which began its fall semester on Aug.17 with a mix of online, in-person and hybrid classes, has currently recorded 183 active coronavirus cases among students and three employees, all in isolation, according to a university dashboard.
The Dorrill family did not immediately respond to requests for comment Wednesday.
A statement from Chad’s mother Susan Dorrill, who was quoted in Democrat Watauga, said doctors said her son’s complications from Covid-19 were rare.
But, he said, “if it can happen to a healthy 19-year-old who doesn’t smoke, vaporize or use drugs, it can happen to anyone.”