Chad Dorrill, a 19-year-old college student at Appalachian State University, died Monday from complications related to COVID-19, the university announced.
Business Insider reports that it is the first reported coronavirus death in the University of North Carolina school system, which includes 16 colleges and universities.
His mom and former basketball coach described Dorrill as “super healthy.” They told the outlet he was a star basketball player in high school.
Dorrill’s death comes after some UNC campuses stooped in-person classes due to an uptick in coronavirus cases.
"The doctors said that Chad is the rarest 1 in 10,000,000 case," Dorrill's mom, Susan Dorrill, said through her son's former travel basketball team, according to WFMY. "But if it can happen to a super healthy 19-year-old boy who doesn't smoke, vape or do drugs, it can happen to anyone."
A statement from the school system's chancellor, Peter Hans, noted that Dorrill lived off-campus and attended classes online. Hans wrote that Dorrill started feeling ill in early September, and returned home near Thomasville, North Carolina, where he tested positive for COVID.
The statement says he returned to Boone, where the school is located, after he followed isolation procedures and was cleared by his doctor. He then experienced more complications and was taken to the hospital by his family, according to the statement.
"His family's wishes are for the university to share a common call to action so our entire campus community recognizes the importance of following COVID-19 safety protocols and guidelines," like mask-wearing, maintaining a 6 feet distance from others, and following strict sanitation guidelines, Hans wrote.
He said that while college kids tend to be lower risk for severe coronavirus complications, they can still get seriously sick from the virus.
"All of us must remain vigilant with our safety behaviors wherever we are in our community," Hans wrote. "We can flatten the curve, but to do so, we must persevere. From the smallest acts to the most important personal relationships, we must actively work each day to reduce the spread of this highly communicable disease."
Coronavirus cases among college students are increasing as schools reopen. On Tuesday, Appalachian State University logged a new record of virus cases among students, 159.
The school remains open, but three others in the system have switched to remote learning as cases spike, according to Business Insider.
A Tuesday report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Tuesday found that another North Carolina university experienced "a rapid increase" in coronavirus cases within two weeks of opening the campus to students.
The study authors said student gatherings and living situations are likely causing the spread of the virus. Once the campus stopped in-person learning, the positive cases dropped.
The CDC has also noted that between June and August, people in their 20s accounted for 20% of all virus cases.
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