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COVID-19 at ECU triples; officials say increase is sign of good reporting

Published: Aug. 12, 2020 at 7:54 PM EDT
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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - As the first week of classes continues at ECU, we're getting a better look at where the university stands so far in the fight against COVID-19.

ECU’s website displays weekly updates on new COVID-19 cases for on-campus students and staff since they reopened in July. This past week’s update was by far the highest, but officials say that shouldn’t yet be cause for concern.

30 new cases were reported on campus the week before classes began, up from 11 the week prior.

Campus leaders say that rise was expected, and there are metrics that better indicate the overall health of the ECU community

“I think every college campus knows they’re going to have positive COVID cases and that was not something that we were ever afraid of,” said Tucker Robbins, ECU’s SGA president. “What we’re looking at is the margins and proportions between cases and hospitalizations and people in the ICU on ventilators.”

ECU’s director of communications, Jeannine Hutson, released a statement on the rise:

Robbins says self-reporting is the best way to track the virus at ECU, and it's easier than ever to do.

“You can report straight from your cell phone as soon as you wake up in the morning or any time throughout the day,” he said. “And the community expectation is that as many students as possible will try to complete that self-reporting and that helps us out in the long run.”

He understands the need to take breaks – but says it must be done safely.

“Our thing is, if you’re by yourself outside and there’s no one around you, sometimes you need to take a breather from that mask – and we get that. But when you’re entering a congested area or a building or a classroom the expectation is that you’re putting on that mask to protect yourself and protect others.

“A phrase that we’ve been saying is ‘Pirates Protecting Pirates,’ and that’s what I’ve seen across our campus, very much so...I really do think ECU has lived up to that.

Robbins described the atmosphere on campus as optimistic.

While the possibility remains that students can be fined, written up or worse if found to be in violation of the mask requirement, he said he doesn't know of any disciplinary action taken so far.

The case count updates at ECU rely on self-reporting, which students and staff can do online and through Student Health Services. SHS is also performing COVID-19 testing on campus.

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