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COVID-19 Cluster At WCU, 17 Students Test Postive In Residence Hall

Lilly Knoepp
Blue Ridge Public Radio
A total of about 3,500 students moved on campus starting August 1.

Seventeen residents of Harrill Hall at Western Carolina University have tested positive for COVID-19. The cluster is the first during the fall semester, according to Jackson County Public Health.

“We expected there to be cases related to our campus as more than 9,000 students returned for residential in-person instruction this fall,” says Kelli R. Brown, WCU chancellor in a press release. “We have extensive protocols in place and will continue to execute our quarantine and isolation procedures.”

The university’s COVID-19 dashboard says that since last Thursday, there have been 38 new student COVID cases and 1 subcontractor at the school has tested positive for COVID-19.  Right now, there are 19 out of 55 isolation beds on campus in use. There are 78 students in quarantine off campus. 

“Public health is a shared responsibility – and it is one that we take seriously,” says Brown in a press release. “We’ve implemented a series of standards including a mask mandate, lowering classroom density, extensive PPE and cleaning procedures and many other protocols through our Catamounts Care initiative. Additionally, we have erected outdoor tents throughout campus for student, faculty and staff use. We continue to evaluate conditions that may influence our ability to deliver residential operations.”

The university says that after today, it will share information about COVID-19 clusters exclusively on the WCU Coronavirus website and on the university social media handles. 

Lilly Knoepp serves as BPR’s first fulltime reporter covering Western North Carolina. She is a native of Franklin, NC who returns to WNC after serving as the assistant editor of Women@Forbes and digital producer of the Forbes podcast network. She holds a master’s degree in international journalism from the City University of New York and earned a double major from UNC-Chapel Hill in religious studies and political science.
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