COVID-19 Today: August 20

In Buzz, July/August 2020, Web Exclusive by Lauren KruchtenLeave a Comment

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Updated: NC State announced it will move its undergraduate classes to online-only starting Monday, August 24; on-campus residence halls will not be closed. ECU is moving classes online starting Wednesday, August 26.

Within a week of opening for the fall semester, UNC Chapel Hill has moved all of its classes online due to coronavirus clusters reported in student housing all over campus. Could it be just a matter of time before NC State moves its classes online–and its students off campus–too? Or could Gov. Cooper issue an executive order to universities to help control the spread?

Here’s where the state, Raleigh and Wake County are with COVID-19 today.

Schooling During A Pandemic

Yesterday, NC State reported it has identified two new COVID-19 clusters at sorority houses Alpha Delta Pi (seven cases) and Kappa Delta (six cases), following reports of an initial cluster in an off-campus house on Tuesday. (North Carolina officials define a cluster as five or more cases in close proximity). Though it reported 27 new cases among students and one new employee case Wednesday, NC State leaders say, unlike UNC Chapel Hill, it has no plans to stop in-person classes.

UNC converted to all virtual classes after a coronavirus outbreak of 135 cases—130 students and five employees—and four clusters, making it the first university to send students back home after opening for the fall semester less than a week before. The four clusters were found in on-campus residence halls and off-campus fraternity houses; Carolina Athletics temporarily suspended athletic activities for all sports teams this week, but said the the fall season will continue.

UNC Chapel Hill
Photo courtesy of @UNC on Twitter

Additionally, the Student Health Center at UNC Wilmington has reported seven COVID cases.

Meanwhile, on August 9, Neuse Christian Academy in Raleigh learned that a student had tested positive for COVID-19, and decided to cancel classes until further notice while they follow protocols for quarantining and cleaning laid out by the Wake County Health Department. Many other private schools in Wake County have chose to reopen for in-person instruction, while Wake County Public Schools started the school year on Monday with remote, online learning only with the hope of bringing students back in either October or November.

Funding For Expanded Internet Access

Gov. Roy Cooper announced a $12 million fund to expand internet access for the state’s K-12 public school students who are starting the school year remotely. The money will make broadband high-speed internet available to 8,017 families and 254 businesses, farms and community institutions. “These projects will help bridge the digital divide in 11 rural counties, so these communities can access important services and participate in our increasingly digital society and economy,” Cooper said in a statement.

The COVID-19 Recovery Act awarded an additional $2 million in funding to enable broadband connections in 1,157 households and 11 businesses, agricultural operations and community anchor institutions in Robeson County.

City of Raleigh Cancels All Events Through 2021

First it was Brewgaloo and Dreamville, then it was the State Fair and the Christmas Parade, and now it’s every large-scale event or festival sponsored by Raleigh through the rest of the year. The city originally cancelled all events up until October 31, but extended the cancellations due to coronavirus concerns. This means that First Night Raleigh, the city’s annual New Year’s Eve celebration featuring the Acorn Drop at midnight, the annual tree lighting ceremony, the downtown food truck rodeo and more have all been called off.

Photo courtesy of First Night Raleigh on Facebook

UNC Health Vaccine Study

UNC Health is recruiting participants to take part in a COVID-19 vaccine study. One of 90 vaccine test sites around the country participating in clinical trials for a vaccine developed by Cambridge, Massachusetts-based biotechnology company Moderna, UNC Health is looking for people who are most at risk of COVID-19 in particular, or who have underlying health conditions. Sign up for the study here.

Moderna Inc.'s possible COVID-19 vaccine
Moderna Inc.’s possible COVID-19 vaccine | Photo courtesy of AP Photo/Hans Pennink

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