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Justin Fraase, vice president of enrollment, communications and marketing at Northern State says it was important to let the public know about the outbreak.
NSU
Justin Fraase, vice president of enrollment, communications and marketing at Northern State says it was important to let the public know about the outbreak.

Students, youth camp attendees contract coronavirus on NSU campus


Bart Pfankuch South Dakota News Watch - July 31, 2020

ABERDEEN, SD - Eight students of Northern State University in Aberdeen and a youth who attended a recent athletic camp on the NSU campus have tested positive for COVID-19, according to a university spokesperson.

The university is working closely with the state Department of Health to undergo contact tracing of those with confirmed cases and to monitor the campus and students for the potential that more cases could arise, said Justin Fraase, vice president of enrollment, communications and marketing at Northern State.

”That (number) may blossom or expand, and that’s where Department of Health contact tracing comes into play and why we continue to work with the department,” Fraase said.

So far, all of those with confirmed cases of COVID-19 have had no symptoms or only mild symptoms of the potentially deadly disease, Fraase said. The university was formally made aware of the positive tests by the state on Tuesday. People who tested positive were present at three recent youth athletic camps for girls: a volleyball camp on July 20-12, a basketball camp on July 23-24, and a soccer camp on July 24-26, Fraase said.

The NSU students who became infected do not live on campus but likely live in the larger Aberdeen community, Fraase said.

NSU is hosting youth basketball and football camps on campus this week, and those events are continuing as scheduled, with masks being worn by attendees. The infected students are isolating off campus and are not attending those ongoing camps, Fraase said.

“To say this is exclusively tied to athletics, I can’t say that right now,” Fraase said.

Fraase said he did not have details as to how the outbreak was initially discovered and referred questions on the origin to the state health department. Phone calls and emails sent to the state by News Watch were not returned on Wednesday. At this point, it isn’t clear if the virus was spread on campus or off campus among the students, Fraase said.

“They may be living here because of their affiliation to Northern, and we can’t say definitively, but right now we’re not able to correlate these back to on-campus activities,” he said. “It’s possible the spread took place outside the boundaries of campus.”

Fraase said it was important for Northern State to let the public know about the outbreak.

“We want to just let people know there’s been a few cases here and this should be a reminder to us all that this is out there and we all need to take the necessary precautions at this time,” Fraase said.

Campus activities will continue as planned, including visits by prospective students and summer learning, research and athletic activities, Fraase said. The outbreak also is not anticipated to affect the university’s plans to welcome students back on Aug. 17 for the fall semester.



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