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Ohio State Finds Nearly 100 Coronavirus Cases During Back-To-School Testing

The Ohio State University campus sign
Angie Wang
Associated Press

As in-person classes resume for the first time since March, Ohio State University says 80 students and 12 faculty and staff members returning to campus tested positive for COVID-19.

The school has tested more than 7,700 people around campus as part of its mandatory back-to-campus program.The results represent a positivity rate of 1.16% for students and 1.44% for faculty and staff. Ohio State also set up an online dashboard to share data from its testing program.

College of Public Health dean Amy Fairchild is leading the school’s testing program, and says the dashboard will give weekly updates on their efforts.

“It’s imperative for the Ohio State community and the broader Columbus community to have access to a timely snapshot of testing and continuous monitoring activities,” Fairchild said in a press release.

As of Tuesday afternoon, university contact tracers had reached all but two of those who have tested positive and sent them to isolation. Most of those students who tested positive chose to return home for their isolation period.

While the school is turning around tests within 72 hours, Fairchild says they've been able to shorten the timeline in many cases. She says they're getting "the vast majority" into isolation within 48 hours. 

In addition to anonymized testing results, the university dashboard carries the following data:

  • Number of students in on-campus isolation or quarantine housing
  • Availability of personal protective equipment on campus
  • Status of enhanced cleaning measures
  • Ohio’s statewide case count
  • Ohio's transmission rate
  • Statewide hospital capacity

As of Monday, 34 students are being isolated on campus, while 29 are listed as being quarantined. The school also reports it has 30-day supplies of disinfectant wipes, face masks, hand sanitizers and nitrile gloves, and more than 90% of classrooms, common spaces and residential halls meet enhanced cleaning requirements.
Ohio State mandated COVID-19 testing for students living on campus or in school-managed housing as part of this year’s move-in process.

Testing will continue on a weekly basis, and the school will also test randomly chosen groups of asymptomatic undergrads living off campus as well. Ohio State is also offering voluntary testing to symptomatic individuals and asymptomatic faculty and staff living off campus.

Ohio State officials say they’re prepared to conduct targeted testing if hotspots develop.

Nick Evans was a reporter at WOSU's 89.7 NPR News. He spent four years in Tallahassee, Florida covering state government before joining the team at WOSU.