The return of college students in Wake and Orange counties helped lead to a spike in new COVID-19 cases in the past week.
Orange County, which is home to UNC-Chapel Hill, reported a 347% percent in new cases this past week compared to the week before. Wake County, which is home to N.C. State, reported a 13% case in new cases this past week compared to the previous seven days.
The outbreaks of COVID-19 cases caused UNC-Chapel Hill and N.C. State to switch to virtual classes.
Durham County reported fewer new COVID-19 cases in the week ending Friday compared to the seven prior days. Duke University did mass testing as students went to their first day of in-person classes on Aug. 17. N.C. Central students will have their first day on Monday.
The numbers come as state and local leaders try to persuade young people to take seriously the risks of COVID-19.
Statewide, 15% of COVID-19 cases are among people 18-24 years old. It’s higher in places such as Watauga County, home to Appalachian State University, where 37% of COVID-19 cases are among people of that age group, The News & Observer previously reported.
At least 153,641 people in North Carolina have tested positive for the coronavirus as of Saturday, up 1,729 from Friday, the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services reported Saturday.
DHHS reports that Wake County has 13,522 cases and 188 deaths, as of Saturday. There were 854 new cases reported between Aug. 15-21
In Durham County, the state reports 6,577 cases and 81 deaths. There were 205 new cases reported in the past week.
DHHS reports 1,808 cases in Orange County and 50 deaths. There were 331 new cases reported in the past week, compared to just 74 the prior week.
Colleges and viral spread
DHHS has connected universities’ opening to increased viral spread, The News & Observer reported.
UNC-Chapel Hill, which has reported 617 total COVID-19 cases as of Friday, and N.C. State University, which has reported 311 cases, decided to move to remote classes this week.
UNC reported Saturday that new COVID-19 clusters were found in Craige residence hall and Alpha Delta Pi sorority house at 411 E. Rosemary St.
Unlike UNC-Chapel Hill, the N.C. State campus will not be closed.
N.C. State students living in residence halls can stay if they wish and graduate school classes will continue as a mix of in-person and online instruction.
UNC-Chapel Hill, which paused athletics on Wednesday, extended the suspension through Saturday, the athletics department announced on Twitter Saturday.
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T. Keung Hui has covered K-12 education for the News & Observer since 1999, helping parents, students, school employees and the community understand the vital role education plays in North Carolina. His primary focus is Wake County, but he also covers statewide education issues.