BOONE — Appalachian State University and Appalachian District Health Department (AppHealthCare) are working closely together to investigate and respond to two active clusters of confirmed COVID-19 associated with sororities, Appalachian State announced in an email Sept. 18.
A cluster is defined by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services as a minimum of five cases with illness onsets or initial positive results within a 14-day period and plausible epidemiologic linkage between cases.
Currently, there are nine students associated with the Kappa Delta sorority who have tested positive within the past 14 days, the university stated. Four are recovering in active isolation and five are past the isolation stage.
Additionally, there are 10 students associated with the Chi Omega sorority who have tested positive within the past 14 days. Three are recovering in active isolation and seven are past the isolation stage, Appalachian said.
AppHealthCare and App State have been providing support to the students and have been working with them to continue to identify close contacts. These case clusters have been identified and confirmed by App State and AppHealthCare based on the number of cases identified within 14 days and all individuals having common links with the sororities.
Public health staff have identified and reached out to all identified close contacts of those who have tested positive. A close contact is defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as someone who has been within 6 feet of an infected person for more than 15 minutes.
"AppHealthCare has been working closely with App State throughout the COVID-19 response, and continues to provide public health recommendations and guidance for infection and virus transmission prevention," the university email stated. "AppHealthCare will closely monitor the active cases and continue to conduct response testing in coordination with App State."
App State will have a pop-up testing event this Saturday, Sept. 19, in the Rivers Street Parking Deck from noon-5 p.m. Students, faculty and staff can walk up or drive up for a free COVID-19 test. No appointments are required, but you will be asked to show your AppCard.
These free pop-up testing events will take place every Saturday in September and October, the university said.
"AppHealthCare and App State encourage members of the university community to take advantage of these testing opportunities," the email stated. "The more information we have, the better we are able to respond to active cases and help prevent the further spread of COVID-19.
"It is important to note that in some instances, the definition of a cluster is not met until after a number of the cases in the clusters are no longer active. This can be due to a variety of reasons, including the number of cases identified in a 14-day time period, contact tracing to identify and determine plausible epidemiologic linkage, and COVID testing and results," the statement added. "Responding to calls and inquiries from public health officials who are tracing close contacts is extremely important for a rapid response from AppHealthCare and App State."