UNC-Chapel Hill just released its latest COVID-19 testing numbers and it isn’t pretty.
The school reported that 31.3% percent of students tested for coronavirus last week returned positive results. This was after the university announced they shut down campus and transition to remote-only instruction.
There have been 835 cases—784 students and 51 staff members—since February 2020. The vast majority, 646 cases, were reported after the first day of in-person classes.
These numbers only reflect tests that were performed at campus health or self-reported by students and staff. Many student sources have told the INDY that they’re aware of students deferring to local urgent care clinics to be tested, only to use their home address. Those cases aren’t being reported to the university.
On Monday, the INDY also learned of off-campus cases at The Carolina Inn. A worker at the hotel said there had been at least five cases at the inn, all from students that were staying there due to construction on one of the Granville Towers buildings and the Alpha Phi sorority house.
The Carolina Inn has told its staff that none of their employees had tested positive and that the students “sought medical attention and there are not currently any cases on property.” It is unclear if they have gone back to their hometowns or been sent to isolation housing on campus.
The INDY reached out to the hotel twice for comment, and was told an official statement would be sent via email after the phone call. The statement hasn’t been received.
It’s possible that some or all of the cases were included in Granville Towers’s case count since the students tested at Campus Health are supposed to provide their permanent Chapel Hill address. The Granville dorms had 144 cases as of Monday, about 10 percent of their overall capacity.
The Carolina Inn is Chapel Hill’s 12th cluster, which is defined as a group of 5 or more cases by the North Carolina Department of Public Health and Human Services. Ten have been reported by the university. The 11th, at Carolina Square apartment complex on Franklin Street, was confirmed in an email sent to tenants that was acquired by the INDY. On Friday, they told residents there were at least 10 cases in their buildings. Carolina Square did not return the INDY’s Monday request for comment.
This weekend, the university alerted the campus community that there were now cases in Carmichael, Craige, and Avery Residence Halls, as well as cases in Alpha Delta Pi sorority. They are the first Panhellenic organization to report a cluster, although two fraternities—Sigma Nu and Zeta Psi—reported clusters last week. Avery Hall is known for housing student athletes, and was even declared “the home of the women’s soccer team.”
Tuesday is the last day for students to apply to stay in on-campus housing, including Granville Towers. In an email sent to residents and obtained by the INDY, Granville Towers is pushing for its residents, all first-years and sophomores, to stay.
“We have had fewer students apply for the waiver than anticipated and feel we can safely accommodate many more,” wrote Clayton Hayer, Granville’s general manager. “To that end we would encourage you to apply for the waiver to remain at Granville Towers.”
Right now, Carolina Housing says they are at 15.1% capacity in campus dorms, with 1,190 housing contracts out of a potential 7,877. Granville Towers reports a slightly higher number of students sticking around at 21.5%, with 280 leases out of a potential 1,305.
The school also reports 97 available isolation rooms out of 170, and 48 available quarantine rooms out of a different 170.
Follow Digital Content Manager Sara Pequeño on Twitter or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. (Note: The writer is a former member of UNC-Chapel Hill’s Alpha Phi chapter, but disaffiliated in 2018.)
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