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Random testing to track cases

Randomized testing for COVID-19 among students, faculty and staff will begin at SVSU in the coming weeks to help prevent the spread of coronavirus on campus, particularly by those who are asymptomatic.

Other universities have similar programs, including Grand Valley State University and Michigan Tech University.

J.J. Boehm, the executive director of University Communications, explained how the process of random sampling works.

“Institutional Research generates a random sample of students, faculty and staff,” Boehm said. “Those individuals are then contacted via e-mail using the nest@svsu.edu e-mail account; students are also contacted via text mes- sage. Those who are randomly selected are encouraged to get tested at the Ryder Center during their assigned time.”

People who are selected are contacted nearly a week ahead of their assigned testing date.

The test being used, known as PCR, is the gold standard in hospitals.

“It is a very sensitive and effective test,” said Matthew Deibel, Covenant HealthCare physician.

SVSU also has a team of contact tracers, who report daily to Judy Ruland, the dean of the College of Health and Human Services.

The new randomized testing program will aid the tracking process.

“Once a positive case is found, tracking and tracing will help find other people who may have been exposed,” Deibel said.

The hope is the new program will detect asymptomatic carriers of COVID-19, Ruland said. Oftentimes, people do not know the individuals they are interacting with are positive.

“Examples of this are riding in a car together without masks, eating lunch or dinner together while sitting too close without a mask for too long, going to a party and not being masked, going to a large gathering together where people are not wearing masks, inviting someone to your apartment and sitting around talking without masks,” Ruland said.

Despite the new testing program, students should still maintain practices such as wearing masks and physical distancing.

“Even if students are following the guidelines most of the time, but in their living situations they are relaxing their diligence, we are finding that they are contracting the disease because their roommates may not be following the guidelines,” Ruland said.

Whether or not SVSU will maintain in-person classes until Thanksgiving break is uncertain, Boehm said.

“There are several factors to consider,” he said. “This is why the SVSU COVID-19 Action Team meets daily to review the lat- est information.”

He said the team is trying to remain optimistic, and encouraged the SVSU community to keep up practices like social distancing and mask-wearing.

“The COVID-19 Task Force and COVID-19 Action Team are encouraged by what we have seen and heard from SVSU students, faculty and staff, in terms of behavior that prevents the spread of COVID-19,” Boehm said. “The key to success is not letting our guard down, because the virus doesn’t rest, and it doesn’t care if we get sick and tired of taking proper precautions.”

You can nd more information on COVID-19 at SVSU.edu.

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