NC university students hope Omicron variant discovery on campus doesn’t cause another shutdown


CHARLOTTE. N.C. (WJZY) — UNC Charlotte students were going about their day when they received an email just after 2 p.m. on Friday regarding a UNC Charlotte student testing positive for the COVID-19 omicron variant.

“It’s definitely concerning,” said Logan Sink, as he was walking from class. “You don’t know what it will entail. You don’t know how it is different from the former variants.”

Mecklenburg County Health Department workers and those with the university updated the public about the case. The student lives on campus at UNC Charlotte, traveled out of state over the Thanksgiving break and contracted COVID-19.

“This particular student was symptomatic during that time,” added Rick Tankersley, vice chancellor for research and economic development at UNC Charlotte. “The student was isolated following their positive PCR test and has since recovered from COVID and is no longer in isolation.”

The UNC Charlotte campus sequencing lab discovered the case, and it was identified as the Omicron variant on Friday morning. Students say the amount of testing on campus helps them to feel safe.

“I think the school is taking the right precautions,” said Thomas Caffey, as he was walking with friends. “I feel like with the daily health screenings and the vaccination rates, we’re in a good standing.”

The county says the safety measures put in place since the start of the pandemic worked because the student was identified and isolated, and exposure to others was minimal. The student was fully vaccinated, and it’s just another reminder that the virus is not gone.

“We anticipate potentially seeing some increases over this period of time,” said Mecklenburg County Public Health Director Gibbie Harris. “That just reemphasizes the need for people to get vaccinated, get boosted, and to wear their masks indoors to protect themselves and protect others.”

“It’s a very real concern,” Sink said. “It’s just a matter of seeing how plays out because there’s just so many unknowns.”

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