Chidley North staff have masks and sanitizer available for residents. Photo by Chris Frazier.

COVID outbreak arrives at NCCU

September 6, 2023

A COVID outbreak has arrived at North Carolina Central University’s campus.

Chidley North Residence Hall staff informed its residents via GroupMe that COVID is spreading throughout campus. They also state that students are welcome to return home for isolation but are not “required to.”

Multiple sources from Residential Life to the Student Health center have confirmed that a dorm for students who test positive is not available.

“If you are feeling sick and tested positive for COVID, I will also advise you to go home and rest up so that your roommates or suite-mates can feel safe as well.”  wrote India Wyatt, an RA in Chidley.

According to Chaquitta Lloyd-Self, Executive Director of Student Health at NCCU,  as of September 6, the Student Health Center has “diagnosed nine cases.”

However, she acknowledged that they weren’t counting the rapid tests that they were handing out to the NCCU community, and that the number could be higher.

“The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services is no longer requiring us to report cases to the state,” Lloyd-Self wrote in an email to Campus Echo.

“I am unsure if the University is still collecting numbers.”

According to the New York Times COVID Tracker, as of August 26, North Carolina has seen an average of 251 cases, with Charlotte having the highest concentration.

This news comes as a new variant, BA.2.86, continues to increase throughout the country.

However the tests conducted by the Student Health Center lack the sophistication to detect a variant in any of the  NCCU COVID cases.

“That is done in the bigger labs, PCR testing, kinda like the CDC labs,” said Brian Shackleford,  a Physician at the Student Health Center.

Lloyd-Self agreed, writing that the rapid tests lacked the “capability to detect a new variant.”

Shackleford also provides a protocol for those who test positive.

“What we have put in place is what the CDC mandates, which is quarantining for 5 days,” he said. “Then remain in quarantine until you have no more symptoms, have gone 24 hours without medication or your rapid tests come back negative.”

Shackleford along with the rest of Student Health has been raising awareness about the increase in cases. “There’s been initiatives to ensure that protocols and preventive strategies are as aware as possible,” Shackleford said.

A recent email to the student body regarding the flu, quarantine, and isolation is one example of this.

He also adds that as far as events getting canceled, it’s “ honestly not indicated right now.”

“The nation as well as the state have deemed us no longer to be in a pandemic but an endemic like the flu,” he said. “We wouldn’t go canceling Homecoming, Tailgates, or parties at the gym for cases of the flu, so we wouldn’t do it for Covid.”

However, he does note that if cases continue to soar to a level of pandemic, things could change.

Student Health is currently handing out rapid tests for students who want them. Regarding the vaccine, Lloyd-Self wrote that based on the current information the CDC has, current medications are effective against BA.2.86.

Shackleford added that like the flu shots, not only will Eagles have access to the upcoming booster, but it should be covered by insurance.

“The new booster will be available for students, once it’s available to the country,” he said.

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Chidley North staff have masks and sanitizer available for residents. Photo by Chris Frazier.
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