Fears of community spread grow as Elon University reports new cases

Coronavirus

ELON, N.C.–Elon University is sounding the alarm and upgrading their campus to level 3 high alert status.

This comes after reporting at least 90 active cases of COVID-19 on Monday.

While that may seem like a small number, for a town of only about 12,000 people, it brings fear of community spread.

Level 3 asks students to limit everyday activities.

“I think that was a good move because they want to keep everybody safe, including staff, students, everyone, so I think that call needed to be made,” said Judy Tyler who lives in Elon.

With an estimated 95 active cases and 295 students isolated, it’s something that Elon Police Chief Kelly Blackwelder feared when FOX8 interviewed her just weeks ago after students were cited for hosting large gatherings.

“The impact is just far greater than just public safety of a few students at a few parties. If it gets out of hand, it could run rampant,” Blackwelder said.

It’s because Chief Blackwelder knows there’s a large elderly community in Elon.

“I was kind of frantic at first,” Tyler said.

Tyler has lived in Elon for a little over a year. While she admits a lot of students wear masks around town, the ones who don’t worry her.

“As scary as it is, something unforeseen, a germ that’s floating, and they don’t take it as seriously as us older folks do. We just like to err on the side of caution,” Tyler said.

She said she’s glad campus officials are doing something to slow the spread.

If you took a walk down Williams Avenue, Monday you could tell that level 3 high alert was in full affect.

“Obviously, there’s nobody on the streets,” said Michaelle Graybreal who owns clothing store All That Jas.

While some business owners are only offering grab and go options, places like All That Jas have completely closed in-store services.

“We just felt like for our staff and also just for our customers as well, that we would be better to just to sort of hang low for a little bit, see what’s happening and reassess for the week,” Graybreal said.

She’s currently offering online and curbside services.

While her business is taking a hit, she understands the crackdown by the university is for the greater good.

“It definitely impacts the community. I have a 6-month-old living at my house. I have a 90-year-old mother that’s nearby,” she said.

Elon University only had six new cases over the past 24 hours. This is down from Monday’s report of eight new cases.

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