Duke students hopeful mandatory vaccines, testing will prevent COVID spread on campus

North Carolina

DURHAM, NC (WNCN) – Students started moving into dorms at Duke University on Tuesday morning and many said they feel safe about returning to campus, even as COVID cases are on the rise among students.

On Monday, Duke University’s dashboard said 97 students tested positive last week and 14 faculty and staff tested positive.

University officials said 93 percent of those positive COVID cases were among vaccinated individuals.

“I’m not ready to say it’s alarming, but certainly it’s evident that COVID is still here,” said Michael Schoenfeld, chief communications officer for the University.

Schoenfeld said there haven’t been that many COVID cases reported in one week at Duke University since last spring.

But he said a majority of the positive COVID cases are individuals experiencing mild symptoms and none of the cases so far have led to hospitalizations.

Schoenfeld said all students are required to be vaccinated, be tested for COVID weekly, and they will be required to wear masks indoors.

Schoenfeld said the COVID positivity rate on campus at Duke University is at 1.1 percent, which is still significantly lower than the state’s COVID positivity rate of 13.5 percent.

As of right now, he said there are no plans to implement any additional COVID safety measures, but he said that could change.

“We are monitoring COVID cases daily, if not hourly, and we’ll make changes and adjustments to our programming and activities, if necessary,” Schoenfeld said.

Duke students said they feel safe coming to campus despite the rising the number of COVID cases on campus and in the area.

“I just think requiring a vaccination is probably the best thing the school can do to prevent COVID from spreading to students,” said Will Collins, a Duke freshman from Florida.

“Most of the students here are vaccinated,” said Paris Reynosa, a Duke freshman from Kernersville. “I’m concerned about the recent cases, but I feel safer here than if I were to go to another school.”

Other students said that they feel safe knowing that everyone will have to be tested, so they’ll catch cases where vaccinated individuals have no symptoms.

“I think the testing is a good idea, that way we won’t be in a dorm with someone who has COVID,” said Alexis Cruz, a Duke freshman from Florida.

Duke University officials said on Tuesday so far 90 percent of students have reported that they are vaccinated.

Officials said that only 1 percent of the student population has said they have requested a religious or medical exemption.

They expect 99 percent of the students to be vaccinated when school starts on Aug. 23.

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