WKU will use testing as a tool for determining COVID-19’s impact on the campus community as the pandemic continues to linger in Bowling Green.
Graves Gilbert Clinic at WKU began testing for COVID-19 on Aug. 3. One week earlier, WKU launched a COVID-19 case reporting dashboard on its Healthy on the Hill website.
Who can receive a test on campus
According to WKU, GGC will administer a COVID-19 test to anyone who asks for one, and the university recommends that those who want a test should also contact their health provider.
WKU has four criteria that would qualify a person for a COVID-19 test:
• They are reporting symptoms that are related to COVID-19.
• They have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.
• A public health agency, through contact tracing, has identified them as being in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.
• A physician orders a test for them because their health condition makes them vulnerable to COVID-19.
Bob Skipper, director of media relations, said in an email that all students, faculty and staff can receive a COVID-19 test on campus for free.
In an email sent to students, faculty and staff in July, Environmental Health and Safety Director David Oliver said that unlike the University of Kentucky, WKU would not require students to be tested before returning to campus.
“Some universities have elected to require testing for all incoming students,” Oliver said in the email. “WKU has not chosen this approach based on consultation with our partner physicians and the most recent guidance [from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention].”
Where you can receive a test on campus
On-campus COVID-19 testing is currently available at GGC’s WKU location. Beginning on Aug. 24, GGC at WKU will be open for COVID-19 testing from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday. GGC at WKU will also be open for COVID-19 testing on Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.
How many tests have been performed and how many have tested positive
As of Aug. 21, WKU has tallied 213 positive cases of COVID-19, and 636 COVID-19 tests have been conducted on campus or at Med Center Health. Skipper said that people should not calculate a percent-positive rate by using the number of positive cases and the number of tests because WKU is not collecting test count data outside of what they receive from GGC and Med Center Health.
“If a test from elsewhere is negative, it is not reported to us, nor are the subjects asked if they are affiliated with WKU at the time of testing,” Skipper said in an email.
Skipper said he was told that each nasal swab needed to conduct a COVID-19 test costs WKU $100 on average. WKU’s healthcare insurer, Anthem, Inc., might absorb a portion of the university’s total cost for COVID-19 test materials, Skipper said.
Skipper said WKU does not have the ability to separate active on-campus COVID-19 cases from recovered cases of COVID-19.
How contact tracing works on campus
In order to locate people who have recently interacted face-to-face with someone who tested positive for COVID-19, WKU will utilize contact tracing.
Oliver said WKU is performing contact tracing through the Barren River District Health Department. If contact tracing reveals that a person has been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, that person must self-quarantine for 14 days.
Students, faculty and staff are also required to self-quarantine for 14 days if they have been in close contact with someone who tested positive for the virus, Oliver said. If a person travels to a state or country that is under a travel restriction, that person must self-quarantine for 14 days upon return.
If an on-campus housing student chooses to quarantine on campus, WKU Housing and Residence Life will provide them with a room assignment, Oliver said. Through contact tracing, if a public health agency determines that a student who is not ill must be quarantined for 14 days, the student may self-quarantine off campus if they wish.
Leo Bertucci can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @leober2chee.