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CDC reports an increase in coronavirus among young people as colleges reopen

The Northeast recorded the highest peak in cases of the virus between 18 and 22 years, with an increase of 144%. Cases in the Midwest in that age group also increased dramatically, up 123%.

Also on Tuesday, a public university in North Carolina mourned the death of a student from complications following a covid-19 diagnosis.

As universities across the country resume classes this fall, the incidence of virus cases is being closely monitored to see if universities are increasing the spread of the novel coronavirus and what students and school officials can do to try and prevent it.

According to the CDC, about 45% of young people between the ages of 1

8 and 22 are enrolled in college. Colleges have come up with a wide range of plans, including efforts to drastically reduce communal housing, increase testing, and persuade students to distance themselves from others. Some schools have recorded thousands of cases, while others only report a handful.

The CDC also looked into the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, which saw a dramatic increase in cases early in the semester. Joint housing and student gatherings both on and off campus likely helped pool the cases, the agency concluded in a separate report released Tuesday.

The rapid spread of the disease in schools “underscores the urgent need for comprehensive mitigation strategies,” according to the report.

The CDC did not name the university, but school officials confirmed Wednesday that it was UNC-Chapel Hill.

Universities should take more precautions to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, the agency recommends, including reducing the number of people living in dormitories, ensuring people comply with public health guidelines, increasing testing for the virus, and discouraging students from meeting in groups.

Preventing the spread of the coronavirus in universities “presents a unique set of challenges due to the presence of congregated living environments and difficulties in limiting socialization and group meetings,” the report notes.

Very little coronavirus data was available in universities prior to August, as most schools closed abruptly last March, sending students home to finish spring classes online. In August, some universities reopened dormitories and classrooms to some extent, giving a look at what could happen.

At UNC-Chapel Hill, the start of the school year in August felt very different from normal, with masked students, much of the education online, and far fewer students in the dorms. However, 5,800 students lived on campus and many more lived nearby in and around Chapel Hill.

And just a week after class started, faced with a spike in cases among students in three dorms and a fraternity house, school officials announced a reversal and implementation of virtual education.

“As one of the first universities to open up and address the challenges, we wanted to share the insights gained from our COVID-19 experience with other universities to learn from,” Audrey E. Pettifor, epidemiologist at the Gillings School of Global Public Health at UNC -Chapel Hill and one of the authors of the CDC report, said Wednesday in a written statement. “Clearly this model of universities that open and then see infections is happening all over the country.”

“Working closely with campus health, the UNC faculty, UNC hospitals, the Orange County Health Department, the North Carolina State Health Department, and the CDC is an important part of learning in situations. like this one, “the statement states. “As a result, we are building stronger systems to address the COVID-19 pandemic and future pandemics.”

A spokesperson for North Carolina State University, which pivoted just as abruptly days after the UNC amid a growing number of coronavirus cases on campus, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

On Tuesday, the Chancellor of Appalachian State University in western North Carolina announced that a student, Chad Dorrill, had died after suffering complications from Covid-19. His family told the university that this month he had been diagnosed with coronavirus while taking online classes and living off campus near the school, he returned home to recover but suffered complications after returning to Boone, NC, where he find the school.

“Her family’s wishes are for the university to share a common call for action,” Sheri Everts, Chancellor of the State of Appalachia, said in a statement, “so the entire campus community recognizes the importance of following the protocols. security and COVID-19 guidelines “.

University of North Carolina System President Peter Hans echoed Everts’ call to remain vigilant about safety behaviors. “Any loss of life is a tragedy,” Hans said in a statement, “but the grief gets particularly deep as we mourn a young man who had so much life ahead of him.”

Everts said many had told the student’s family that “I wear my mask for Chad”. “Please allow us to honor Chad and its contribution,” Everts wrote, “by taking care of ourselves and our community.”

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