CNU links small student gatherings to surge quadrupling COVID-19 cases

Christopher Newport University, CNU
Posted at 4:32 PM, Feb 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-11 17:21:09-05

NEWPORT NEWS, Va.— COVID-19 cases are surging at Christopher Newport University. The Newport News college has more active cases now than they’ve had in the past three months combined.

Despite this, they’re confident things are turning around.

Ashley Marino is a junior concerned about the rise in cases numbers.

“You’re coming in contact with, like, so many people, so it’s just kind of hard knowing that the cases are kind of high right now,” said Marino.

The university reported 137 active cases in February as of Thursday. That’s more than four times the number of cases reported last month.

“I think definitely at the beginning of the semester because the vaccine was coming out, people were letting their guard down like a little bit, but nobody wants to get sent home,” said freshman Kyleen Moradi.

The university points to just that — COVID-19 fatigue taking an alarming toll.

“We are not seeing large off-campus parties as a primary cause of the surge in COVID cases,” explained Chief Communications Officer Jim Hanchett. “What we’re seeing is that once students are comfortable with each other in residence halls, off-campus locations and dining halls - just around campus - they’re letting their guard down.”

CNU says 5,000 students are attending on-campus classes and around 70% of classes are held in person; however, they have no plans to make a shift towards more virtual learning.

“The curve is starting to flatten. Over the last couple of days, the increase in students in isolation has been very small, and so we’re optimistic that in the next few days we’ll see at least dozens of students fall off that isolation list,” said Hanchett.

Nearby local businesses have caught wind of the surge and say they’re no more concerned now than they’ve been in the past.

Related: More than 100 CNU students quarantining after testing positive for COVID-19 amid school's first sporting event in months

Steps away from campus, Beervana Taphouse says one of their biggest concerns isn’t the virus coming in - it’s the virus keeping people out while they work to stay afloat.

“We feel that as long as we’re keeping everything clean here and we’re requiring people to follow the rules, that everything should be OK,”said Haleigh Oderisi.

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