Chad Dorrill, an exercise science major at Appalachian State University in Boone, N.C., was living off-campus and taking classes online when he started feeling unwell earlier this month, school Chancellor Sheri Everts announced in a statement on Tuesday. His mother, Susan Dorrill, encouraged him to come home, quarantine and be tested for COVID-19.
"After testing positive for COVID-19 in his home county, he followed isolation procedures and was cleared by his doctor to return to Boone," Everts added. "It was after his return to Boone that he had additional complications, was picked up by his family, and hospitalized."
Susan Dorrill said in a now-private Facebook post that her son didn't exhibit any known symptoms of COVID-19, and was just "incredibly tired" for two weeks.
“Little did we know (the virus) was secretly attacking his body in a way they have never seen before,” she said. Doctors said it was “the rarest” of COVID-19 cases, according to the Charlotte Observer
Tonia Maxcy, a friend of the Dorrill family, said doctors suspected he had a previously undetected case of Guillain-Barré syndrome, a rare neurological disorder that can be triggered by certain viruses, the New York Times reported.
"As our family suffers this incredible loss, we want to remind people to wear a mask and quarantine if you test positive even without symptoms, you have no idea who you can come into contact with that the virus affects differently," the family's statement added. "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."
As of Tuesday, the university has 159 current active cases among students, according to its COVID-19 dashboard. Everts said the school has "stringent cleaning and safety protocols" on campus for students and staff. They include wearing face coverings, maintaining social distancing, as well as, washing hands and sanitizing work stations.
"The hearts of the entire Appalachian Community are with Chad’s family and loved ones during this profoundly difficult and painful time," she wrote. "Tributes shared by friends and loved ones show the positive impact Chad had on the communities he loved and called home, which included App State and Boone."