UNCW reports 300+ new COVID-19 cases one week after classes begin

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Classes resumed for students and staff at the University of North Carolina Wilmington last week and COVID-19 cases have started to climb.

According to UNCW’s Best for the Nest Data Dashboard, more than 300 people have tested positive for the virus in the last 10 days. This includes 5 faculty and staff members, 139 off-campus students, and 157 on-campus students.

The university identified a COVID-19 cluster in the Sandpiper Residence Hall on Tuesday. According to North Carolina Health and Human Services, a cluster is when five or more cases are considered in close proximity by location in the last 14 days. 

There are 150 beds available for students to quarantine and 52 of them are currently in use.

WWAY reached out to the university for a statement and were sent the following:

“At this time, we anticipate that the precautionary measures we have in place will enable us to focus on in-person learning and on-campus living experiences. These measures include: 

  • Face covering requirements indoors with disposable masks distributed across campus, including in classrooms 
  • Comprehensive vaccination program with free vaccines conveniently available on campus; no appointment necessary 
  • Mandatory, weekly surveillance testing for unvaccinated faculty, staff, residential students and off-campus students taking on-campus classes 
  • Good hand hygiene awareness efforts with widely distributed sanitizing stations across campus 
  • Residence hall visitation by non-residents suspended 
  • Virtual formats for many events, activities and meetings not directly related to student learning or coursework”

WWAY spoke with several students on-campus to get their reaction to the numbers. Some students say the figures are concerning, others want to focus on having a normal year.

“I think it’s scary but at the same time I think there’s hope,” said freshman JD Wightman. “I mean I think a lot of cases are happening and I think school’s doing a good job.”

“COVID’s not something I really take an interest in,” said sophomore Kadi Dekovitch. “I’m not really too worried, I got tested two days ago and was negative.”

UNCW Board of Trustees member Woody White provided a statement on the current case numbers and restrictions, saying:

“At some point, decision makers will conclude that neither government nor university officials can control COVID. It’s a virus, and will be with us, in different variants, for years. To me, The choice is do we continue depriving students of the much-needed experience on campus they pay for and expect? Or do we enact restrictions that make people feel better, but have no measurable efficacy? That’s an easy choice for me.”

Cape Fear Community College reports they have been successful in preventing COVID-19 clusters because students do not live on campus.

A campus spokesperson says they’ve had no clusters of the virus so far, but have special lines to call if students and staff get symptoms or are exposed.

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