Duke University Reports First COVID-19 Cluster Among Students


One day after North Carolina saw its highest single-day increase of new coronavirus cases, Duke University has reported its first COVID-19 cluster among students at an off-campus apartment complex.

University officials said nine students living at Solis Brightleaf Apartments in Durham have tested positive for COVID-19 since October 7, WRAL reports. Duke spokesman Michael Schoenfeld said that even though the cases spiked in one location, it is only a relatively small number.

"Obviously, it is concerning because it's a cluster, but remember that the numbers we are talking about here are pretty small," he said. "This is something that we had anticipated, that we had prepared for, and that we activated all of the procedures."

Duke University issued a statement saying that all students living in the apartment were informed of the situation and have had "enhanced mandatory surveillance testing" this week.

"In addition, Duke is working with Durham County Public Health and the management of the Solis to continue contact tracing and ensure that all precautions are being taken," the statement read. "As part of that process, all residents of the Solis have been offered the opportunity to get a COVID-19 test at Duke Health's downtown testing center."

Unlike other universities, Duke didn't alert the public of the reported cases; instead, they focused on contact tracing and notifying those who may have come into contact with them. According to WRAL, at least one student living on campus was disappointed in the school's response.

"I think transparency from the university is really important," said Duke freshman Mark Kabai. "I think a lot of kids here, especially among us freshmen, we're really concerned about our own health and safety. We take it really seriously on campus, I think."

On Thursday, North Carolina saw its highest daily increase of new COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic. The positivity rate, the number of positive results in comparison to the number of tests, has also slightly increased from September's average of 5%.

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