“Before there were students, we had very few cases,” Fuente said Wednesday during a Zoom call with local media. “I’m not blaming it on the students. It’s just a fact. People have come back to campus, and there’s just more people around. There’s more traffic in the streets. There’s longer lines at Chipotle. It’s just part of the deal.”
The university on Monday reported 157 new positive cases out of 1,012 tests from the previous week throughout the Blacksburg, Va., campus. Virginia Tech has reported 178 positive cases since university officials released their first report Aug. 16.
Move-in days for on-campus housing and residence halls began for the general student body Aug. 14 and ran through Aug. 23. Students were assigned two-hour slots in which they were permitted to drop off their belongings, with a maximum of two additional guests to assist.
Typically half of the 10,000 students would arrive on the first day of move-in, but, according to the school, this year 700 were scheduled for each day in an effort to limit the risk of community spread of the virus that has killed at least 181,000 in the United States, based on data from The Washington Post.
“I would say we’re in the same position as the student body,” Fuente said. “We’re dealing with it as well. To say things change every day — who we’ve got, who we don’t got — would be an accurate statement. We’re not different than the general population in terms of trying to handle it.”
The Hokies are scheduled to open Sept. 19 against archrival Virginia at Lane Stadium, although uncertainty as to if there will be a season at all continues to swirl around the program and the ACC in general given two other Power Five conferences, the Big Ten and Pac-12, announced they would be canceling fall sports.
Virginia Tech’s original season opener was to be Sept. 12 against North Carolina State, but that game was moved to Sept. 26 following the Wolfpack reporting 27 new positive cases within its athletic department and suspending all athletic operations.
North Carolina State resumed practicing on Monday.
The latest report from Fuente regarding infections on the Hokies, the majority of which he indicated were asymptomatic, left him hesitating when asked if he had enough healthy players were the season to start immediately.
“What does, ‘Can you play a game mean?” Fuente said. “Can you line up 11 people out there? Can you field a team, or how competitive are you going to be, or what’s it going to look like, and is it safe? So can we play? Yeah. But there’s all that gray that I think it’s hard to figure out right now.
“Answering that part of the question is maybe more important than, ‘Can you?’”