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Nineteen-Year-Old Appalachian State Student Dies of COVID-19

A 19-year-old Appalachian State University sophomore died of COVID-19 complications Monday night, becoming the first reported coronavirus-related death of a student in the University of North Carolina system since campuses reopened with at least partial in-person learning last month.

A tall basketball player, Chad Dorrill died of neurological complications related to coronavirus, The New York Times reported.

His former high school coach, Jason Anderson, told local tv station WFMY-TV it’s hard to come to terms with Dorrill’s death.

“Any loss of life is a tragedy, but the grief cuts especially deep as we mourn a young man who had so much life ahead,” said a statement from Peter Hans, chancellor of the University of North Carolina system, overseeing the state’s 16 public colleges and universities.

Dorrill was an exercise science major and was taking online classes while staying off campus in Boone when he felt unwell.

His mother encouraged him to return home and get tested for COVID-19, said Appalachian State University Chancellor Sheri Everts in a statement.

Complications After Being Cleared

After testing positive for COVID-19 in Wallburg earlier in September, Dorrill was isolated at home for 10 days, after which doctors cleared him to return to Boone.

Dorrill experienced additional complications after returning to Boone and was taken to a hospital in Winston-Salem, 86 miles away, where he died.

Dorrill’s uncle David, quoting the doctor who treated his nephew, told The New York Times that “they’d never seen something progress the way it did. It was a COVID complication that rather than attacking his respiratory system attacked his brain.”

David added that the condition of his nephew, after returning to Boone, had become so severe that “his legs were not working, and my brother had to carry him to the car and take him to the emergency room.”

Appalachian State University has reported 594 cases of coronavirus among its students since March 27, and 183 of them are still being infected by the virus. 

Across the country, at least 130,000 cases have been recorded in 1,300 plus campuses across the country, with about 70 deaths, as per The New York Times database tracking the virus on college campuses.