University in process of acquiring more hotel rooms

The university is expected to acquire 100 new rooms Wednesday morning

Taken from, this dashboard shows known, verified tests through the University’s testing of asymptomatic students

Aine Pierre and Isabella Mason

Wake Forest is finalizing an agreement with two local hotels to provide additional space for students isolating with COVID-19, according to multiple university officials.

The two hotels cannot be named until the agreement is finalized Wednesday morning, according to Mark Petersen, vice president for university advancement. Combined, they will add 100 rooms to the university’s current isolation capacity.

Once the contract is signed, the university expects to move students into these new rooms as early as Thursday evening. 

As of 9:30 p.m. Tuesday night, 33 isolation beds are available out of the original 349 spaces, according to Petersen. The number of available rooms is expected to increase to 60-70 beds Wednesday when some students complete their isolation requirements. This count, however, does not include the 12 isolation spaces with private bathrooms on campus, which could be used for emergencies, Dean of Residence Life and Housing and Assistant Vice President for Campus Life Matt Clifford told the Old Gold & Black.

“[Tuesday], we had 22 students who completed their isolation. We expect that [number to increase] to 37 or 38 [Wednesday]. Then, on average, around 45 rooms [will become open] Thursday [through] Saturday,” Petersen said. 

Those new rooms, however, are likely to be filled almost immediately. University officials are expecting about 50 or 60 new positive tests tomorrow from asymptomatic testing, which would bring space availability down to the single digits. 

“If you take the information that’s been up on our dashboard, the asymptomatic positivity rate has been hovering between five and seven percent. So what we need to do is understand and plan for the fact that we could see that five-to-seven percent positivity rate each day this week,” Petersen said. “That’s why it became real obvious, when you did the math, that we would be better off adding this additional capacity now.”

Petersen added that the number of new entrants to the hotel is bolstered by those who take diagnostic tests and are subsequently required to isolate until they test negative for the virus.

Despite more hotel space opening up, students who have not tested positive, but are in quarantine due to exposure, will still be required to either quarantine in-place or in open single dorms/suite spaces on-campus. 

“Residence Life and Housing is using unassigned, vacant rooms to assist in the quarantine process,” Vice President for Campus Life Penny Rue wrote in an email to the Wake Forest community Tuesday night. “These rooms may be used to house a student who has been asked to quarantine-in-place but should not do so in his or her current space.”

Students who are showing symptoms of COVID-19 can also quarantine at home. Additionally, students who feel unsafe on campus can return to their permanent residences. Rue’s office estimates that 350 students have returned home, but the division of those students by reason for leaving is unclear.

This is a breaking story and will be updated as new information arrives. Stay tuned for updates.